My manuscript came back from that lofty evaluation with over 16000 individual edits. Some as simple as punctuation, some more involved with plot, character, structure. This was a struggle for me.
I stared at both versions, the manuscript I had submitted and the returned, edited version, for a week, paralyzed by the entirety of it. And then I set to doing the work, changing my story and making it better thanks to the efforts of my editor. Three versions lived on my monitors, submitted, edited, and the version I was working on. I was in foreign territory, but working within its borders.
I spent weeks rewriting. During one unforgettable phone call with Kevin, I asked if it was PC enough to write, “…at least it was made by the Japanese.” Kevin’s response was that the statement itself isn’t offensive, and anyway it sounds like something Dallas would say. This momentary comment on a character I had created, that someone else now knew well enough to predict their mannerisms, blew my mind.
In essence, for the first time throughout this process of artistic creation, I felt I had succeeded at writing.
So it’s a decent book?
Turns out it wasn’t terrible but it needed a couple of rounds of editing and polish. Kevin had some additional comments further to what was mentioned in the previous blog post.
“This novel feels like maybe your fifth or seventh manuscript rather than your first. And perhaps you have several other manuscripts in your desk drawer that you wrote prior to this one. All that to say, this manuscript is on par with some of the best sci-fi novels out there. It’s gritty, smart, realistic, and it has a lot of sass.
“On a more technical level, the dialogue is snappy and authentic with a good technical argot, the pacing is tight, and the high-tech elements are easy to understand without your having to be overly didactic.
“Overall, it’s a strong debut with a clearly developed style that I know will instantly earn you some lifelong fans.”
After reading this and then running around the block with excitement, I spoke to Jordan, my point of contact at Friesenpress. He mirrored Kevin’s sentiment. My elation grew. What I was as yet unaware of however, was how much work lay ahead of me. Editing, as it turns out, is a difficult emotional journey.
Debbie of Friesenpress, to her credit, needed to coerce me to hand over the manuscript for review. I held it tight, unwilling. She reminded me that it will not resemble its current state by the time it gets to publication.
Debbie was correct.
So imagine my surprise at the editor’s response to my manuscript submission.
And I quote, “I am very impressed with this manuscript. It feels like it was written by a seasoned author who has spent years developing his craft. In terms of tone, for me it lands somewhere between William Gibson and David Mitchell. It’s highly literary, authoritatively technical, and it asks some intriguing ethical questions.”
High praise indeed. Validation for the question burning behind my eyes at all times, "is this book any good?"
One day, at the suggestion of my wife, I approached a Canadian publisher, Friesenpress, to inquire about their publishing process.
“So, you wrote a book,” Debbie said to me.
Imagine hearing those words, and what that was like to hear from an industry professional. Admittedly not a submission to a traditional publisher, however, as I’m sure all writers can imagine, the emotional acknowledgement of the achievement (of writing a novel!) from someone uninvolved is surprisingly, well, emotional.
I feel so liminal.
Or is it interstitial? In between in either case.
Aviation had my undivided attention for decades, I couldn’t have imagined doing anything else.
Yet here I am, about to release a debut novel, and while the book contains several aviation moments, it is largely based on topics of which in comparison, I am certainly no expert.
While I wait patiently for a professional review, I shall keep myself busy posting here about the experience of (self)-publishing with Friesenpress.
Stay tuned for information Charlie…
It’s where I write from. An un-windowed space. My face is the colour of computer, illuminated by screens from all sides.