Step One: Receive letter. Restart heart. Do Happy Snoopy Dance around living room. Begin phone calls to everyone you know.
Step Two: Practice sounding cool, yet excited, when “The Call” comes. Visualize cover. Write RITA acceptance speech. Fax revision letter to critique partner.
Step Three: Brainstorm exciting wardrobe possibilities for RITA award ceremony. Re-read revision letter and start to panic. Call CP instead to deconstruct editor’s word choices and obsess over possible underlying messages.
Step Four: Open computer file. Re-read deathless prose and wonder how you’ll be able to improve upon it. Close file. Re-write RITA speech and practice signature for first book signing.
Step Five: Open file. Begin slashing everything the editor said had to go. Realize you’re left with 45 usable pages. Go lie down in dark room until nausea passes.
Step Six: Brainstorm ideas for revisions. Realize they all suck. Call emergency meeting at Starbuck’s with writing friends to brainstorm other ideas. After coming down from sugar/caffeine high, realize those all suck too. Decide you need new group of friends, ahem…fresh perspective.
Step Seven: Begin work on pages 1-45. Replace all weak verbs with stronger, more colorful, choices. Give hero ability to cock one eyebrow. Give heroine a cat.
Step Eight: Realize that only netted three new pages and that you’re now totally screwed. Wonder if you can get old day job back.
Step Nine: Begin writing—something, anything, just do something other than stare at that stupid blinking cursor. You’re not getting any younger, you know.
Step Ten: Realize that you may just be on to something. These new pages aren’t so bad after all. Begin to take chances. Discover characters’ true motivations. Find your groove.
Step Eleven: Get giddy and excited. Decide to wear red to RITA ceremony.
Step Twelve: Realize pages 1-48 are now totally wrong and have to be rewritten.
Step Thirteen: Realize that’s not the end of the world. Sometimes you have to know the ending to write the beginning anyway, right?
Step Fourteen: Polish, proof, print, post. Panic. Obsess with CP over whether you’ve done the right things. Whether you’ve done enough. Decide she’s probably lying to you, but try believe her anyway. Cross fingers.
Step Fifteen: Stalk the mailman. Check caller ID for tell-tale area codes. Wonder if the cat was a bad idea after all…
Step Sixteen: It’s hard to say what step sixteen might be this time. Rejection? More revisions? A contract? But y’all will be one of the first to know—if I ever get there, of course. I’m finishing up 13 and closing in on early parts of 14 right now. But I’m hopeful. Happy. Cautiously optimistic about the quality of what’s happening with this rewrite.
And that's what's important, right?