When I send a manuscript out, I break up with it.
Not the dramatic kind of breakup. There are no tears, no threats, no ultimatums.
Just a quiet, amicable separation. I wish it well, I do. I think about it sometimes. I fantasize briefly about getting The Call while doing something humdrum – maybe driving home from work, or waiting at the dentist’s. But that heartfelt can’t-live-another-minute-without-knowing-how-it’s-doing feeling? Nope.
This is a defense mechanism. I’ll own that.
And then, eventually, the manuscript comes back. It knocks on the door, with notes tucked in its pocket.
I cave in. I let it back into my heart.
Me: “Poor little guy. I didn’t send you out with the right stuff, did I? Come in, sit down. I’ll make us some tea and you can tell me all about your pacing problems.”
Manuscript: “And you don’t even want to know what they called your protagonist!”
We work it all out. We fall in love again. There’s that needy-grabby-this-story-is-mine feeling again.
Then we drive each other nuts.
Me: “Maybe chapter 12 should actually be chapter 3.”
Manuscript (mutters): “I’m going to reinsert every “just” you took out tonight. Every. Single. One. While you sleep.”
And I send it back out again. I wish it well. I do. It’s not the manuscript, it’s me.
And it comes back. I throw the door open wide, and boot the other stories to their rooms. For now.
Me: “I’m sorry I called you a “work”. That wasn’t very emotionally available of me, was it?”
Manuscript (snuffles): “You used the word “project” when you thought I wasn’t listening.”
And then we work on it some more, and drive each other nuts some more. And then I send it to the agent’s (metaphorical) house and let it bother her for a while.
And so it goes.