Today is my birthday, and I have been holding off on sharing some exceptionally good news for the past few days, so I could announce it today.
Remember yesterday, when I mentioned the industry’s patented last-minute revision deadlines? And remember how I told you in the dim past that editors almost never ask authors to revise and resubmit anymore? Well…
A major publishing house has asked me to make certain revisions in my novel, THE BUDDHA IN THE HOT TUB. It’s not an offer yet, mind you, but it’s the first step.
Not a bad birthday present, is it?
To add icing to the birthday cake, the editor — it practically makes me tear up even to write about it, because it’s SO uncommon — took the time to read my manuscript TWICE before she made any suggestions at all. And the requested changes, while not what I would have chosen to do left to my own devices, are all quite reasonable and doable.
Yes, that’s right — she gave me THOUGHTFUL feedback. I know; pinch me, because this seldom happens to writers outside dreams.
I am both tickled the proverbial pink and a bit panicked, of course: said revisions need to be done in about a month. (See earlier comment about deadlines.) So you may safely expect two things between now and Halloween: my blogs will probably be a tad shorter, on average, and I will have a LOT to say about the art of revision.
But wait! There’s more!
I have a birthday present for you, my loyal readers: as of today, every single blog I have ever written is now available on this site, all the way back to my first PNWA post in August, 2005. And, unlike my old PNWA blog, these are both arranged by category, so you may quickly find the general area you need in a crisis, AND you can comment upon them. (The fact that my readers could not leave comments on my old blog was a source of constant debate; suffice it to say that it wasn’t my idea.)
That’s 1567 pages (in standard format, of course) of bloggy goodness for you, roughly 391,750 words. (If you don’t know how I was able to translate from one to the other, go back and read the earlier blogs on word count. See how easy it is?)
Why am I giving you a present for my birthday? Well, this is a major birthday for me, my friends, not only due to the Best Birthday Present Ever, but because my birthday last year was marked by a singularly unpleasant event: it was the day that my publisher first mentioned the possibility of canceling my contract for my memoir, A FAMILY DARKLY: LOVE, LOSS, AND THE FINAL PASSIONS OF PHILIP K. DICK.
Yes, my agent felt bad about the timing, too.
As you may have noticed, the book is not yet out, nor can I tell you when it will be, due to repeated groundless lawsuit threats from the Dick estate. Since they first began threatening, they have never specified anything that they wanted changed in the actual text of the book (the closest they came to specificity was objecting to the photo used on the cover, which was naturally beyond my control), there was no way to revise the text in order to appease them. Evidently, they believed that the mere fact that I, of all the writers in the world, had written a book about my relationship with Philip was in itself actionable.
It’s not, as far as I know, but these folks have a LOT of money.
This state of affairs has prevailed since mid-July, 2005, shortly before I began writing the PNWA Resident Writer blog. There have been days when literally the only positive thing that happened was that I sat down and posted advice here that might help other writers. The blog has been absolutely essential to keeping me sane and balanced throughout this ordeal — and for that, I thank you, my readers, from the bottom of my heart.
Unfortunately, I can give you no update on the publication prospects of my memoir: my publisher has in fact reached a decision about it, but until the legalities are settled, I cannot fill you in on what happened and why. Many, many thanks to those of you who preordered the book, and I hope some day, I can publish the truth as I know it.
I can’t worry about that now, however: I have a revision to perform. And a birthday to celebrate.
I feel pretty good about my life, all in all. Whenever my faith starts to waver, I remind myself of Louisa May Alcott, who struggled for seventeen years before she got her big break.
Louisa should be the patron saint of writerly persistence. She wrote every day, mostly for ill-paying newspapers, primarily under pseudonyms, because she needed the money to support her shabby genteel family. Her first two books were, to put it kindly, great big flops, and she flailed about from genre to genre, trying to find her market. In a rejection letter, a publisher who declined her romance novel (which was, incidentally, quite good) mentioned that they would be willing to take a look at a book for girls. Louisa, by her own admission, didn’t much like girls, but as a writing professional, she gave it the old college try.
LITTLE WOMEN has never been out of print since. In the midst of her struggle to find her voice, she wrote, “I shall make a battering-ram of my head, and make my way through this rough-and-tumble world.”
May we all have her tenacity and permanent in-print status, my friends — although perhaps with swifter guardian angels, ones willing to whisper in the ears of the small army of people who need to approve each acquisition: “Buy this book. You need this book. The world needs this book.”
But while our angels are in training, let’s all keep up the good work.