Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My New Novel Is Coming Out--And I'm Trying to Breathe Deeply!

I just got the big packet every writer waits for--edited pages of my soon-to-be released novel, Qualities of Light. My super-duper editor, Katherine Forrest, sent them to me for a look over and corrections. Katherine is so good at what she does and I value editors highly, but still there's a bit of a catch in the breath when I open the package and see what needs changing. She tells me over and over in the cover note, "This is a really fine novel," and then makes her suggestions.

I'm used to this. I've been a professional editor since 1986. It's part of the job. An editor only hopes for a cooperative writer, who can hold her original vision for the book--and release it for a better one.

So I took a big breath, undid the tape, shook out the contents.

She loved it! Wow...

And she had great (great!) suggestions. Tiny places to tweak, small moments to clarify, little adjustments here and there. It is making the novel really sing.
After I read through everything, accepting 99.9 % of Katherine's suggestions, I looked back in my writing notebook at my présumé exercise. I wrote it three weeks ago, on one of those snowbound days of deep writerly despair, when I didn't really believe my novel would be published, ever, ever. The présumé said this:

"April 15, 2009: Everything is moving along beautifully with my novel and publication. Katherine's edits are amazing, I'm grateful for all her insights and suggestions, and we're in good communication."
April 15, huh? Guess I was behind the timetable of the universe. Not a surprise. Présumés often happen early, in more delightful ways than we can imagine. They work because they let us let go. Once we let go the stranglehold on our creative project, lots of amazing "coincidences" occur.

You don't have to believe me. For this week's exercise, just try the présumé you didn't do last month (see post below) and make it short, sweet, and focused on something you really want to happen in your writing. Just a couple of sentences, written in present tense, as if you are looking back from a future date and feeling great about what's happened. You can post your présumé here, so we can cheer you on!


  1. Hi Mary

    I've been enjoying your blog for quite some time. Just wanted to offer a big congratulations on the new novel and the edits! Thanks for such an inspiring post. :)

  2. Thanks, Denise! It's certainly a big moment in a writer's life....

  3. Congratulations! Your blog came at a perfect time for me and I'll be writing that presume (another one - I wrote a long term one, but never thought about short term ones, like mini-goals). As always, thanks for all you do.

  4. Hi Lynn--So glad the blog is helpful! It's great to have a forum where book writers can share and learn from each other. We're certainly a unique species of writer. Thank you for posting!

  5. Hi,

    Thank you for this post. I am new to writing and left my job to focus on it. Though I love writing, I am overly critical of my work and have a hard time getting out of the criticism to see where I'm headed. My new daily vision is: If I suddenly vanished, what would I want to leave as my legacy? This presume is a great way to help me work towards that ideal.

    Thank you and good luck with your novel!

  6. Thanks, Kristin--a great question to ask. It's very inspiring to us creative folks. I will use it too!

  7. Congratulations on your novel! I love all the exercises and tips you put in the Loft newsletter and in this blog. I've been wanting to take a class from you for forever. Maybe this will be the year.

  8. Thanks, Mary! I'm so glad these exercises are helpful--they've certainly helped me. I'll be teaching at the Loft the weekend of March 27-29, three fun one-day workshops, so if you're free and want to join us, there's still room!

  9. I'm really glad to have found your blog, through a piece in the Loft magazine. I still hope to take your class April 24/25, if it's not full. I had my first Writing Popular Fiction & Romance class last night, gave myself a meltdown, but Mary Bracho got back to me with some good suggestions (and encouragement) on my synopsis and first few pages. It confirmed what I was thinking, which was good, but means I need to completely re-work those three-point-two chapters I thought were mostly done, but it will be worth it!

    Please keep the great information coming!!!

  10. Hi Lori,
    Sure hope you can make the April book-writing weekend at the Loft--I think there's still room, but it'll most likely be full. Mary is good, I'm glad she helped with the meltdown (such a common experience for book writers!). Thanks for the great comments on my blog. I love interacting with others of our writing "species" (book writers are a unique breed).

  11. Hi Mary,
    Congratulations on the book! I just read the NY Times article about you. It's wonderful - and inspiring. I love the picture of you in your studio.
    Here's my presume: my middle daughter is going to Spain this week for 2 1/2 months. When she comes back in June this is where I'll be: the short story I'm working on will be finished and out to literary journals. The novel I'm working on will be starting to take shape. All the little sidetracks I took when doing nanowrimo will be replaced with real story and character development. I'll be happy with the weather. (I'll be exercising too - which will give me energy!!). I also want to talk to you about teaching and will have started that conversation. One more piece of news I wanted to tell you -- I'm now the Assistant Fiction Editor for Inertia Magazine! I'll be working on the next issue which will come out this July! Thanks for your inspiration, support and guidance, and again, congratulations! Judy

  12. Cool, Judy, wonderful presume, and congrats to you on becoming an assistant fiction editor! Now you'll get to learn about all sorts of literary journals to send your great stories to. And I love reading them!