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Monday, August 17, 2009

Trash Day

I have a love/hate relationship with trash day. I love to get rid of all the trash that has accumulated over the week, but I hate it when I oversleep and don't get it out in time. I still can't figure out why they have to come so stinkin' early! The last time this happened, I chased the trash truck down. He was already almost all the way down the street, but the thought of maggots crawling over week-old trash took over my reasoning power, and before I knew it, I was running down the street, waving my arms and screaming, "Come back! Come back!" Yes, I had just crawled out of bed and was barefoot and in pajamas (not the pretty kind either). My hair was a giant, frizzy mass of tangles, and my eyes were bloodshot and puffy. But, in my defense, I had been up late the night before writing. No, not blogging--writing! I thought about flirting with the guy, but then I realized I wasn't exactly the most attractive thing right then. So, instead, I humbly begged him to swing back by my house. He tried to hide his amusement at my appearance, but I saw him giggling when he so kindly returned to retrieve my trash. I'm pretty sure I made his day. I know he made mine--he gave me a second chance. But will an agent? Maybe. Maybe not. In this post, I talked about all of my late night query mistakes. Several of you mentioned that the biggest mistake you made was querying too soon. This was also my biggest mistake. My trash just wasn't ready. What are some things you've done to make sure your manuscript is the best it possibly can be?


Jody Hedlund said...

I think we all end up querying too soon! We just get so excited after completing our books and have that secret hope that what we've written is different and better than the other average writer. We tend to blow off all that advice to wait, take some time away from our MS, and let time give us fresh perspective on it. We're just too excited and a bit deluded! Then we start getting rejections and we finally come back to earth and realize that what we read was right--that we still need more time to grow in our writing skills!

Dawn VanderMeer said...

I agree with Jody. Time gives us fresh eyes. A cold reader also helps, particularly if he or she is a fellow writer. And critique groups...OMG, where would we be without our critique groups?!

Terri Tiffany said...

Have someone else read it--guess we all agree on that one!
But about your trash---make the husband do it! Mine gets up way earlier than I do!LOL

Anonymous said...

Our borough does a poor job of communicating when they are switching "garbage day" due to holidays. So, we are often in the position you describe. I hate that!

I don't have a manuscript, but I do submit to contests, etc. I have somebody else read my work, if there's time, and then just hold my breath and submit. I always miss something.

Weronika said...

LOL. Too funny. :D

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha! Where's the barefoot pajama pic? (My husband puts the trash out the night before)

I agree with the critique group comments!

Amy Tate said...

Susan, you crack me up! Flirting with the trash! I missed ya, girl. I've recently experienced submitting the query without getting feedback lesson. You know, I've heard about folks making these mistakes, but until I experience the mistake, those lessons don't sink in. I submitted an equery and later found a typo...UGH. Next time around, I'm taking my query to my critique group. Beth recently posted queries on her blog, and I thought that was so cool. I was too chicken to post mine, but I learned a great deal from reading other's comments.

Janna Qualman said...

Yes, fresh, other eyes are crucial. And several runs through, especially with it printed out, because I catch more that way!

Jill Kemerer said...

I love that you considered flirting until you decided your appearance wasn't up to it--that's funny!

I read my work out loud as a final polish. And before I send out any pages, I riffle through quickly to make sure all of them are there!

Rae said...

Love the image you painted in my mind of you chasing a garbage truck.

I agree with everyone else -fresh eyes and a second reader do wonders to make your writing better.

Travis Erwin said...

Unlike garbage, time is a manuscripts best friend. You can't let rotting food sit for long but an MS needs plenty of compost time.

Lazy Writer said...

It's amazing how much growth is required!

Critiques are important, but a little scary. :)

My husband tends to forget, so I took over the job. Apparently, I'm not much better at it, though.

Struggling Writer,
Every time I read my ms, I catch something new. And I've read it at least a billion times!

Glad I could offer you a laugh today.

Okay, even if I had a picture, I would not be posting it. Chasing down the garbage man is one thing. Publically humiliating myself on Blogger is quite another.

Having someone review your query is very important. I learned that one the hard way!

Fresh eyes always catch something we miss, don't they?

I doubt I would have flirted with him even if I had been a little more presentable, but the thought did cross my mind.

It wasn't a very pretty image. My kids were dying from embarassment. Good thing my husband doesn't know; he'd probably kill me!

Danyelle said...

*hugs* I feel the same way. If only I could remember to have Beloved Spouse Creature get it out the night before.

Letting the Betas have a feeding frenzy helped big time. Being able to have a clear vision of my story so I knew which advice to follow was also important. Being willing to see my shortcomings and grow out of them is good too. :D

(Congrats on your awards!)

Lily said...

I'm no where near that point, but I can imagine I would be anxious to get it out there. When we're so 'close', it's hard to wait any longer!

Heather Sunseri said...

What a funny post, Susan! I love it! I'm very creeped out by the picture of maggots you've left in my head though. I hate when that happens. Yuck!

I definitely querried too early. I will not query too early this time. I will not query too early this time. That's what I'm doing. I'm saying that sentence over and over in my head.

Also one of the things I'm doing is using the list that Rachelle Gardner had on her blog today when I go back through my MS for the millionth time. I starred that blog post.

Happy Monday, Friend!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Rachelle Gardner had a great list of words to omit or rethink on her blog today in order to tighten our MS. Loved it. Going through that list is a must.

The way you described yourself reminds me a lot of what the bus driver sees me like. :D
~ Wendy

FictionGroupie said...

After revising my book recently, I realized I queried too soon. I didn't know any better at the time. I (hopefully) will learn from that.

And my husband has so done the running down the street to catch the garbage truck. I bet those garbage collectors see quite a number of people in a state of half-dressed panic daily.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I loved your trash story. It made me giggle!

I just keep rewriting and rewriting to try and be ready for submitting. I did submit to agents years ago--waaaaaaay too early. But I don't count that time because I was way to stupid back then. Five years later I finally submitted again, and that was just this month.

Karen said...

I haven't finished a manuscript yet and gotten to the query stage, but even in the editing phase I've got two fellow writers that are helping me along. They've given me great advice, allowed me to bounce ideas off them, etc.

And when it's complete, I plan to have at least 2 other people outside of my writing circle read the finished product. I'm counting on them being average readers, not necessarily writers, to see what they think of it too.

jbchicoine said...

I don’t mean to get all philosophical, but that whole “best it possibly can be” thing drives me nuts, and I mean literally OCD. I’m not going off on you here, Susan, but really, what does that mean—BEST—can anyone define that for me? Is there a more subjective word in our language? I’m sure there is, but none seems to rile me like that four-letter word.

Disclaimer: I’m only ranting about it right now because I’m getting ready to start querying, I’ve only had one writerly beta-reader, and I have no idea if STORY FOR A SHIPWRIGHT is at its B*E*S*T.

Kathryn Magendie said...

*laughing* at the image of you -teeheehe...

We take our trash to the local trash place - we don't have ours picked up here on the mountain.

I have queried too soon - oh yes - on the ms that became Tender Graces ---

I get the draft out and then I go over it and over it - I also do "find" searches for tic words and look at my "ing and ly" words to make sure I don't over do them, and etc etc etc! :)

still laughing....

Lesley said...

I have never attempted a manuscript, but I do often send out emails trying to drum up freelance writing work. I always send them just one typo short of 'perfect.' But sometimes they work anyway.

Anna C. Morrison said...

It's just gotta feel right. You'll know it when it happens. No secret tricks I've heard of, except for asking others what they think, and getting another perspective. But still you need to follow your gut. And I'm sure the trash guy was amused and happy to help you. :-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Great post, and yes, querying too early is a common mistake. I'm guilty of it, and I know other writers who are guilty of it, too. You live and learn and get better as you go. Trust yourself, trust the process, and enjoy the ride!

Joyce Wolfley said...

My hubby puts the trash out the night before. We make sure to shred anything that might have personal info. But I definitely started the query process too soon. Newbie mistake on my part.

Lazy Writer said...

Yes, time is good. It's on our side. :)

I have two new beta friends I'm getting ready to send it to. I can't wait for the feedback!

It's so hard to wait, but it's the best thing to do. I learned my lesson!

Sorry to gross you out! Maggots don't create the prettiest picture, do they?

Yes, I saw that post. She had some helpful tips.

Fiction Groupie,
I'm sure you are right; I can't be the only woman in history to ever run down the street raving mad, can I?

I'm so glad you submitted again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!

I think it's very important to let non-writers read the work, too. They give feedback based on what readers think, without all the rules.

Perhaps, BEST isnt' the right word. How about this: What have you done to improve your manuscript to the full extent you are capable of? Is that any better? :)

Glad you are laughing at my expense! :) Those tic words are a problem, aren't they?

You are right. Sometimes the queries work even with a typo, but I think luck plays a huge part in that!

I agree with you. Our gut instincts are more reliable than we give them credit for.

I'm definitely enjoying the ride!

You shred, too? Some of my friends think thats odd. And, I think I've made just about every newbie mistake in the book. I might have even invented some new ones! :)

WhisperingWriter said...


I've run out in my pajamas before to take the trash out. Not fun.

Lori said...

I read this as I could hear our trash truck going by outside. We usually put it out in the evening, the night before. Not this week. We forgot and didn't bother this morning either. Ugh!

Strange Fiction said...

Love your story! Bet you made the trash guys day! We have to haul our garbage to a transfer station.