A Long Time in the Making

Posted by Doug Shidell, September 23rd, 2020
On His Own Terms

I moved to the Twin Cities in 1980 with the idea that I would write a novel. It was a sweet, naive dream, with at least a dozen aborted attempts. The most ambitious was in the 1990s, when I submitted a manuscript to publishers. It was rejected.

I started again in retirement with the luxury of free time and few responsibilities. Two years into the project, I submitted the manuscript for review through the Loft Literary Center’s “Manuscript Critique” program. The feedback? Throw out the last third of the book and heavily rewrite the first two thirds. The rest is OK.

It was a brutally honest, professional response; a crash course in Novel Writing 101. If you’re serious about writing a novel, you have to go through some version of this process. If you don’t come out of it bruised and deflated, you probably haven’t had the manuscript reviewed by a professional editor.

I worked on the rewrite for another six months and had it reviewed by three more readers. It took another couple of months to work through their comments.

The process was a deep dive into humility and it brought up every bit of insecurity buried in my bones. Now it’s done. Impatience and fear prevented me from submitting it to a publishing house. I had to publish it myself. On that, at least, I have experience.

Now it’s out as an eBook. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble , on my website, and through any outlet that sells eBooks. Eventually I’ll try to get it into libraries, but each step of this process takes time.

In some ways, I’ve already met my goal. The novel is written and I’ve told friends and family about it. I could let it go at that, but I’ve been a writer for decades and I like putting my works out there for the public to read and react to. I’m waiting for the initial reactions, setting up the distribution channels, figuring out marketing. adapting my website, and waiting.

The waiting is tough. I want to know what those first readers think, but they have lives to live, other books queued up and urgent needs to address. I can’t push them. I have to let them come to the book and read it on their own terms. It’s one more lesson in patience and humility.

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