Sunday, October 12, 2014

First Novel Jitters, Musings on October, TIL I Use Too Many Dryer Sheets

I completed the first edit of my novel this weekend, and sent it to two people who generously agreed to read it. There are a few other people I’ll be sending it to for feedback as well. But now I’m really jittery. Having labored away at this in almost total seclusion for two years, I’m starving for feedback. I can barely stop myself from cyber-stalking them with desperate inquires: So what do you think, huh? Do you like the main character? Are you done yet? Is it good? Is it publishable?  Did you have to stay up all night reading because you couldn’t put it down? It doesn’t suck, does it? Does it make you feel all the feels?  But I’m also nervous that I will get confirmation that it’s a total dud. About every hour I get struck with a mild pang of panic. What have I done? It is a ridiculous act of hubris to write an entire novel and then send it to people you know and ask them to read it. To further exacerbate my nerves, I have been researching how to write query letters to agents, even though I’m nowhere near ready for that step yet. Writing an effective query letter sounds almost as hard as writing the book itself. I’ve jotted down a few notes on what I want to include, but the whole process feels incredibly intimidating. Also, I am kicking myself for not becoming a book agent so I could fill my spiritual void by being loved, adored, and desperately sought-after by hungry writers.

It’s October, my favorite month! Fall is here. The relentless sun has retreated. It’s crisp and chilly and properly damp again. There are pumpkins! And pumpkin spice lattes! (I don’t care that liking them makes me a white female cliché and an internet joke. I will drink them with impunity, and I will not apologize). The endless and deathly gloom of the Seattle winter hasn’t settled in yet. The chilly weather is still mild enough to be comfortable, and the fall leaves are fiery and colorful, instead of just brown and dead. Scarves and boots re-emerge in all of their nubby glory. TV airs spooky paranormal ghost shows and tawdry horror movies. The tourists are gone and we have our city back. October has the best of everything. The only thing making me a bit sad this month is that it’s the first anniversary of my cat Zooey’s death. I still miss her so much. I was listening to a “This American Life” episode this morning, and a man who had lost his teenage son to a gun accident said about grieving, “It’s not true that it gets better. It never gets better. It just gets less immediate.” Not to compare my grief to the loss of a child, but Zooey was a lot more than just a pet. If there is a cat afterworld, I’m sure she’s the head of her own feline motorcycle gang by now. I’ll toast my next pumpkin spice latte to you, Zozo!

I washed the bedding yesterday, and Mr. Typist keeps finding dryer sheets in the pillowcases and between the sheets. Today he informed me that I don’t need to use so many drier sheets because science and blah blah blah. “Unless,” he said, “you like having  sheets that reek of Bounce.” At which point I admitted, yes, I do like having sheets that reek of Bounce. It makes them smell fresh. I am susceptible to marketing gimmicks. I know that dryer sheets are coated with toxic chemicals and I’m a huge dupe and a typical neurotic female who is obsessed with household cleanliness, but you know what? I don’t care. I like the smell. It’s comforting. It makes me feel like there is some purity in the world, and that for all my mistakes and failings, and for all of the pain and bewilderment life brings, I can least have sheets that smell like a clean summer breeze on a country mountain top in a field of wildflowers surrounded with lavender. All I ask of the world is to be left alone to enjoy my fresh-smelling sheets and my pumpkin spice lattes in peace. Represent!

Warning: This video has swears.

--Kristen McHenry


John Socrates said...

Another fabulous post, as usual! I shared it with a few of my networks--about 13,000 people! Meanwhile, your buddy cat is in cat heaven. If you read my Poet's Day Newsletter, and the one sent out on Saturday, you'll see the poem of mine therein regarding this subject. Its sentiment is one I believe you might appreciate.

Congrats on completing your first major edit of your novel. Try to share it with one or two of your most difficult critics. It's a good way of obtaining greater perspective and objectivity.

Kristen McHenry said...

Thanks, John! Wow, I really appreciate the share! 13,000 people--that's amazing. I have your newsletter but I haven't delved into it yet. I will do that.