Lack of Control

Lack of Control

by Michelle Cameron, TWC Director

Well, it’s another snowy Wednesday in a series of them, like wet, white pearls that keep tumbling off the string, making us trip over them. Is it spring yet?

At The Writers Circle, we’re scrambling to make sure all of our classes are covered. But the vagaries of the season have me contemplating those things where I have no control. Like the weather. Or childbirth. Or publishing.

Ah, publishing. Being in the midst of submission to publishing houses fills me with the acute unease that a lack of control always brings. My students want to know where my agent has sent my novel and I list the houses – with the caveat that, no, it’s not necessarily a good thing. No, I’m not particularly sanguine about the process. No, I don’t want to face this moment in my writing life with anything like excitement – because my inner insecurities have taken hold and I’m afraid to jinx it.

I lost power for several days last week with the last storm. Something else I had no control over. How long would it be? For awhile, there was no information and no way to know when it would be turned back on. All I knew was that I was cold and in the dark – literally.

It feels that way right now with my publishing status. When asked for an update, my agent says, “You’ll know when I do.” I’m trying to be cool – not to nag her (we never want to nag our agents). Not to put too much brainpower into the questions that crop up annoyingly every once in awhile: is the fact that it’s been over two weeks now a good thing or not? Has a particular editor decided that she (they are all women in my case) likes it enough to pitch it in committee? Is there any chance that just one of these houses will extend an offer?

I keep telling myself that this is in the lap of the gods right now. I’ve done the best I can, revising the novel many more times than I would ever have thought possible, reacting to the excellent advice received from beta readers, from my agent, from an editor I hired. I’m proud of what I’ve done, but I have no control where the novel will go from here. Publishing is a fickle business. Subjective.

So I throw myself into other projects. Manuscripts I’m reviewing for TWC students. Freelance work that suddenly became busy. The constantly growing to-do list of TWC administration. I’m even revising a much beloved manuscript that brought me through the last time I was in this position – one that I hope will itself see the light of day someday. Maybe it will prove once again to be my good luck charm.

Stuck in the middle of this purgatory of publishing, I have to accept the fact that I have no control. Like this weather, which continues to pick on Wednesdays to taunt us with thoughts of spring.