Sunday, 18 September 2011

Back up the back up

This isn't a post about an amazing new discovery. Well, unless you're a new, fresh off the train newbie writer. In which case, welcome to the chaos!

One of the first pieces of advice I heard when I started writing with a view to publishing was this: long waits are inevitable - deal with it.

The other piece of advice I received: write while you wait. Now while this is solid, no-nonsense advice, in the past I've found this soooo life-suckingly depressing and debilitating to the point of complete non-productivity!

Surely the editor will LOVE my subbed manuscript? She’d offer me a contract and (just because I love editing), give me a few lightweight edits before sending off my baby on great white clouds of fluffiness to the print house with instructions to print 1 million copies! Huh? Yes??!

Alas, the reality is very grim. While I've waited to hear back, I've pottered about, clicking refresh at least once an hour, moaning to my CPs, Twittering, blog-hopping, and clicking refresh some more - as if by doing so the editor will somehow feel my pain and put me out of my misery.

But then slowly it began to dawn on me that I wasn’t doing myself any favours. All I was doing was putting my life on hold for the sake of one manuscript. And no matter how much I loved my story, it was imperative that I had a back up if the editor didn’t *gasp* love my characters as much as I did. Yes, folks, it turns out the wise been-there-done-that authors were right. Have a back up.

But then I thought, why not go one step further? What if the editor comes back to you and asks for another story. You present your other bouncing, freshly washed and powered baby and she goes, “Er, no, your baby's not as fresh or powered as you think. It's got major colic, and I think you missed that stinky diaper."

I know this will cue a lot of "duhs" in blogland, but I'd actually never thought that far ahead until I realised this could be a real possibility. Nothing like being asked “what else have you got?” and answering, “umm, actually, nothing at the moment.”

So, I stopped clicking refresh, and clicked on my "wips" folder. Why? Because, the thought of missing an opportunity like that made me break out in a cold sweat.

We all have our goals. For now, mine is to always have a back up because a) when the dreaded R lands, I'll have something new to sub and, b) should The Call ever happen (I'm far from giving up on that dream!), I won't have to stress about scrambling to write Book 2.

So my tiny piece of advice? Back up your back up. You never know when you'll need it!


  1. Go, Maya, go! I am guilty of having LOTS of backups. But they're not all finished. Definitely pays to have a couple at the ready.

  2. Ha, I'm slowly learning to finish my wips too, Jax ;)