Sara Zarr is a wonderful YA author; I’ve only read one of her books but am fanatically devoted to her blog. (You see the pattern here, right? The pattern that involves me reading a lot — a LOT — of blogs written by authors and agents… I consider this “research” and “getting to know the field,” not “procrastination.”) (Ha.)
Anyway, Sara Zarr recently did five posts in a row telling the story of the publication of her first novel, and in the last one, she creates a great metaphor around the way she felt after the book was published and in readers’ hands:
I picture a craftsman, making a dining room table. He designs it, plans it, buys the materials, labors over it and does the best work he can. Someone comes along and wants it in her house. Money exchanges hands and the customer carries the table away. Now the table has its own life. The guy who made it can’t know if it will sit in an empty room and get covered with junk mail, or if dignitaries will dine at it, or if it’s going to be the stage where a family’s life is lived. Maybe it will get resold at a yard sale two years from now. Who knows?
Maybe he’ll sometimes run into the lady at the grocery store and she’ll say, “We love your table.” Or maybe he’ll get a note. And that can provide a little boost on days he doesn’t want to head into his workshop. That table worked out pretty good. It was appreciated. But it can’t be the whole reason his work is worth doing. And if he gets a note that says, “One of the legs is wobbly,” he can’t let that stop him.
I think that applies to the agent process, too. Publication can’t be the whole reason; learning from the people making the decisions has to be part of it too.
I am still struggling with this head-hopping thing, writing and rewriting my first chapter. The last 100 pages of my book are better than the first 100. They have more action and better pacing. They hit a groove that the beginning chapters — the first chapter especially — can’t quite find yet.
I’m working on it. No one wants my chair in her house quite yet, and I know that one of the legs is wobbly. And I’m working on it. And I’m going to fix it.