During a recent phone conversation with my agent, she said we were almost ready to approach publishers.
I suppose I knew that, but hearing her say it out loud made it real. It made me incredibly excited — and slightly panicked. Because I realized that this might be the last time I revise my manuscript before we pitch it to the people we hope will buy it.
Each time I’ve revised this book, I’ve aimed to make it the best it can be. But knowing that these could be the last significant changes I make before my manuscript is judged by a panel that really matters, that got my pulse up a little bit.
I know my book is in good shape. I’ve been writing and revising for nearly two years, had input from more than a handful of helpful readers, worked extensively with a critique partner and incorporated ideas from my agent. The story arc is solid. It’s free of grammatical errors. I’m confident in the book as a whole.
But suddenly I found myself panicking over what I’m sharing with the reader. Do I really want everyone to know that about me? Am I sure it’s okay to say this about that person? Am I ready to go public with the feelings and dreams and aspirations I reveal in this story?
Because to write honestly, I had to block out what everyone else would say. I had to forget about how a family member or friend would feel if I included a certain detail about her. At some points, I even told myself that no one would read this story, that it was just for me. Because that’s how you get memoir onto the page.
But now I’m at the point where someone else will read the book. And not only read it, but decide whether it’s good enough for the world to read.
So as part of this revision, I did something special: I asked my sister for help. Over the last week, we’ve read through the entire manuscript together, chapter by chapter. My sister isn’t a writer, but she’s exactly the kind of reader I needed this time around, one who would help me think through what’s okay to share with the reader, whether certain stories will alienate friends or family, whether I should feel comfortable with what’s on my pages. All 300 of them. Because while this is just a book, and I get to decide what’s included, I am putting myself out there with this memoir.
I owe my sister big time for this one. When I finish this revision (just a few more days now!), I’ll feel comfortable with the manuscript, from beginning to end. Ready for this sucker to hatch.