You know that novel I’ve been talking about all year? The Academy of Forgetting, a riveting (I hope) YA psychological thriller set in the near future and full of awesomesauce?
Finished. Done. Kaput. Complete.
I’m having trouble believing it. But I am also very, very happy!
So what’s next, my non-writer friends ask me? Will we see your book on shelves soon? (Writer friends, bear with me here, as I’m sure you’ve received similar questions.)
The answer is NO. In fact, the book isn’t truly finished, as in it is not yet ready for publication. It is ready to be seen by agents, which means it is as good as I can make it. However, if an agent were to be interested, and if I were to sign with said agent, and then if said agent were to sell the book to a publisher, there would most likely be several more rounds of edits between the version on my computer right now and the version that would show up in bookstores.
This entire process can be remarkably time-consuming. And there are no guarantees at any particular step. The trick, I think, is to focus on what I can control, which is writing a novel that I can stand behind and be proud of.
So what’s next? I am updating my agent spreadsheet, I am working on short summaries for a potential book 2 and book 3 in the trilogy, and I am revising my query letter and synopsis. Then I will start sending queries to agents on the spreadsheet. And meanwhile, the fun will start:
A NEW NOVEL.
Which realistically means I will spend the month of December brainstorming and fleshing out various novel ideas. If I’m really, really lucky, I’ll also choose one of those ideas and outline it. If the brainstorming goes more slowly, though, I won’t be doing the outlining until January. If the brainstorming goes very slowly, I might squeeze a short story or two in there somewhere too. (And for those wondering, no, this new novel will not be book 2 to follow The Academy of Forgetting. I’ll only write that book if AoF sells. Or if I get an agent, and my agent believes that starting book 2 before selling could be strategic, and I agree with him/her. Or if I have another particularly compelling reason.)
I am very excited about this, and it also feels weird. It feels weird to get ready to let go of this novel project that I have focused so much of my life on for the past ten and a half months. It feels strange to contemplate starting something new, with characters I don’t know better than I know my real-life friends and no limits at all until I lay some down in the outline. Soon I’ll be having new entirely made-up adventures instead of the familiar old ones.
It’s also interesting to see how finishing this novel, my third, feels different from finishing the first two. When I finished my first novel, there was this sense of euphoria because until I crossed that finish line, I wasn’t completely one hundred percent positive I could actually write a novel. When I finished my second novel, there was a sense of relief that the first one wasn’t a fluke.
But with The Academy of Forgetting, I feel more of a quiet satisfaction that I was able to tell the story I wanted to tell and grow as a writer. I already knew I could write a novel. And I know I’ll be writing another novel in the not-too-distant future. This is my life now.
And that is a truly wonderful thing.