Is it just me or do lots of writers focus on the bad and underplay the good? How many times do you have to hear, “I loved your book!” to counter the one furrow-browed reader who says she thought the love scene was not very tender. Never mind that you wrote that scene to illustrate how wrong the relationship was in the first place. Now you are convinced your whole book is an example of what every writer should not do.
The agent can say they like your style or that you have talent and the full manuscript you sent isn’t right for them but they’d love to see anything else you have. You don’t see the offer to send another story, you see “You couldn’t write an application for a grocery store discount card. You have bad hair, could stand to lose some weight and your feet stink.” And when I say you, I mean me.
I delay celebration. A publisher sent me an offer… in writing. It looks pretty darned official. As with dear Folio and her husband when the publisher accepted the book but seemed to take forever to send the contract, I refuse to break out the champagne or go for a celebratory dinner until my name is on the dotted line. Underneath the logical, accountant brain of mine lurks a superstitious mind. I’m afraid if I rejoice too soon, the bottom will drop out and I’ll be disappointed beyond repair.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of writers who sold books only to have their editor leave the house and the book is dropped. Do you suppose one of the writer’s friends threw them a party with a multi-layered chocolate cake and that somehow jinxed the deal? Think what would happen if, for instance, my husband took me out for steak and lobster and we toasted the deal with the publisher, and then, for some reason, I never got the contract.
Just what WOULD happen? I’d have had a nice evening, a terrific meal and feel special and successful. I’d feel awful if the contract didn’t materialize. On the other hand, if I don’t celebrate the offer and the contract doesn’t happen I’d just feel awful, without the feel-good evening.
But just in case, contract first, champagne later.
What are your writing superstitions?