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April 1, 2003: Is Life Good, or What?

February 19, 2003
I spoke on the phone with my new editor today (I'll call her E.). She is so nice! I am so thrilled! I thanked her profusely for this opportunity and promised to always, always, always right the best book I can.

She asked me about myself and we chatted a bit, then she said she'd be emailing me with more details tomorrow. The actual contract would be sent out sometime within the next six weeks. One thing I've learned about publishing . . . it's s...l...o...w. There's so much going on, distances are great, preparation time is extended, publication dates are out as far as 18 months. Note to aspiring writers: Relax. Take a deep breath. You say you put your manuscript in the mail yesterday? Well, take my advice and don't start running for the phone anytime soon. Besides, when The Call actually comes, you probably won't be home anyway!


February 20, 2003
E. emailed me today. She'd like to change the name of the book from Uppity Woman to something that sounds more romantic suspensey. I like the title as it is, but am certainly willing to change it! So, I sat down and came up with 53 alternatives and emailed them to her. Some I liked a lot, others were only okay, but I wanted to give her lots of choices.


March 3, 2003
God, is it March already? Let's see, I began this book in 2000 and finished it in 2001. Since I work during the day and have all that bothersome husband and children stuff I have to do, I worked on it nights and weekends. I began the Great Agent Search in December of 2001, got an agent in May of 2002, she sent out the manuscripts and I got an offer in February of 2003. Two years so far and the book won't even hit the shelves for another 18 months. Perhaps I should re-title this Journal and call it something like My Glacial Rise to the (Bottom of the) Top, or How to Become Published in Three Easy Epochs.

Now, if I break down the number of hours I've spent working on the book, subtract the amount of money in paper, postage, phone calls, printer ink, etc. from my advance, then divide the hours into the remainder . . . hm . . . um . . . hm . . . okay, let's see, four plus . . . hm . . . carry the one. Aha! I appear to be making something on the order of $2 per hour as a professional writer. So, you ask, is it worth it? YESSSSSSSS!!!!! Absolutely!!!! Hell yes!!!!

Note to aspiring writers: Love writing. You must love writing, because, as you can see, unless you are subsidized by a working partner, trust fund, or Sugar Daddy, a first-sale isn't going to get you very far. People who think all writers are rich, or if you sell a book, you'll be rich, need to do the math. Sure, the occasional writer strikes it rich right away (good for her!), but she's the anomaly.


March 4, 2003
I'm a no-talent hack who should never had even tried to write a book! Guh! This damn manuscript I've been working on isn't coming together at all. I've re-written it three times. I can't settle on a title I like. I've tried every approach I can think of and still, garbage. I'm throwing the whole damn thing away, except for the first sentence. The first sentence, I'm keeping. It's brilliant. It's absolutely brilliant. Best hook I've ever seen. For the length of one sentence, I'm brilliant. The rest, garbage. So, I'm keeping 12 words and throwing the other 109,988 away. Am I stupid or what. Don't answer that.


March 10, 2003
My brain is dead. Not co-operating. I need a plot! Gray cells, don't fail me now! I'm driving to work. It's a long commute. My mind wanders a bit. I begin seeing a setting, a heroine, a hero. I know them. I like them. I can work with them. They will fall in love and live happily ever after, once the bad guy is dispatched of course. The plot begins to unravel as the miles roll away under my tires. Sometimes, a long commute can be a good thing.


March 24, 2003
It's spring now. Say, who's the first Irishman of spring? Why, Paddy O'Furniture. Yuk-yuk-yuk.

Note to aspiring writers: When you think you're getting really good, when you think you're onto something and your writing is flowing and you feel you've got a real gem under your fingertips, do not begin reading Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory. Your ego will plummet like a duck with buckshot in its behind.

I am a hack. I have no business even trying to write. Judith Ivory's words and images and characters are gilt-edge swan feathers while mine are spray-painted bricks. Clump, thump, crash. Yet, I read on because I'm sure to learn something from her, and in time, if I stick to my craft, do lots more reading, listen to experienced writers, and work like a demon, I might someday be that good. In a fit of depression, I email my friend Mary (Novak) who is so good at bolstering one's spirit, I tell her she should turn pro. Thank you, Mary.


March 26, 2003
Woweee-zowee! I received the contract today. Rebecca, my 17 year-old, looks at it and says, "Oooooh, the long paper. It's serious when they use the long paper." Meaning legal sized, of course. 3 copies, everything set out in detail. Pam had already read it over and said it looked a-okay, so I read it and sign all 3 copies, and off they go to New York. It's now an officially done deal. NOW, I let myself get excited! Really, really excited!!

Also, I had an email from E. who said she'd put my revisions letter in the mail, so I should be receiving it any time. She'd boiled it down to two titles that she liked (of the 53 I'd submitted). So, it looks like Uppity Woman will either be Everybody Loves Betsy or The Damsel in This Dress, which is my fave. Can't you just see the cover for that one? Okay, I'm smiling again. This weekend I'll work on my new book, and when I get E.'s revision letter, I'll begin the process of revising my very first book.

Is life good or what?

-- Marianne


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