I've started querying again. But the difference is, this time around, I'm not running to the phone every time my email dings and I'm not waiting with suspended breath for those responses to come in. The first time around was exhilarating. When I got my first request for a full, I ran into the bathroom where my husband was taking a shower, blurted it out to him, then promptly started crying! I don't think that will happen again! (The crying, not the full request--I do hope that comes again.) I think I was so raw the first time around, it being the first time I'd send my little "baby" out into the world--kind of like the first time you send your child off to school, hoping she is happy and makes friends and people like her. SoI sent the original batch of queries (10-12 in all, over a period of about 4 weeks) and waited. It didn't take as long to get responses back as I thought it would. That's part of why I went ahead and sent a big handful out--I'd heard over and over how it can take months to hear anything back. My novel was finished, but I admit, there was still a bit of fine-tuning to be done. I was counting on those agents taking forever to get to my little query in the slush pile! When the first agent asked for the full less than 48 hours after I sent it, I was so elated, I didn't pause to think about the fine-tuning in the back of my mind. I was satisfied with my story as a whole.
But the feedback she gave me was so valuable. Among the good things she said, she pointed out that she thought there was too much backstory at the beginning. My first thought was, "Man, if she thought this had a lot of backstory, she should have read my first (under the bed) novel!" That thing had pages and pages of unnecessary backstory, and I used that novel as a lesson to myself to not include as much in The Hideaway. Except that once I started thinking about what she said, and browsing through my ms, I realized, "Sh*t! It's here too!"
So I did a revision. I printed the whole thing out, highlighted blocks of unnecessary backstory, and cut chunks of explanation and character histories. Nothing about the plot changed, but I ended up CUTTING OUT the first two chapters of the novel. Now, the novel starts with what was chapter 3, and it has *6,000* fewer words! It is mean, lean, and ready for action. I thought the novel was in a finished state before, but now I truly know it is. I do think you can edit a thing to death, so I have stacked up my two-and-a-half-inch thick stacks of paper, added a title page with the completed word count, and resumed querying. This time, I am more confident in my story's potential. I sent a revised 50 pages to the agent who had originally requested them, and another agent has a partial as well.
I will say this though--it was HARD to cut out most of those 6,000 words. Probably 2,000 were easy to lose, but cutting the rest really taught me the meaning of "murder your darlings." I thought I knew what it meant, but cutting some of my favorite parts of text was super hard. I saved them all in an "unused stuff" file, so if I ever want to reread it, it's there, but it was hard to take it out of the story. But I do think the book as a whole is better for it.
So, onward. I sat down at the computer this morning and wasn't sure exactly what to do. In the waiting period after sending my first batch of queries and before I did the revision, I'd started writing something else, but I'm finding it hard to get back to that. My past experience is that once I start a story, I have to keep rolling with it every day or I lose steam. Hopefully I can find some tendril of steam to pick up on and get back to that story. My fingers itch to write, not just edit and revise.
Good writing vibes to everyone!