Is it just me, or is it really daunting to switch from one book to another? I was all sucked into my second book (YA romance). I mean, to the point where my story and characters were spinning in my head, like hamsters on a wheel, constantly! I made the newbie writer's mistake of thinking I was completely done with my first novel because my agent had sent it to a few editors. Ah, 3 1/2 years of intense work, done. Now all I have to do it wait, right?
My friend KT (Hi, KT!!) reminded me not to count on hearing back from editors within a few weeks (like Jay), but instead suggested I realistically plan on waiting several months, and if I did hear sooner I'd be pleasantly surprised. Bah! I blew it off because I knew better. As soon as those editors feasted their eyeballs on my brilliant work, they'd be calling within days to offer me that seven figure deal and invites to P. Diddy's yacht party just like my horoscope said! As usual, KT was right, and it's been four months. I've collected a handful of “very good” rejections, where editors congratulated me on the original voice, entertaining characters, powerful and important ideas, great writing, etc, etc... But so far, no one has fallen in love with the story itself.
I promised my agent I'd quickly make major revisions so that the central problem would provide a bigger “hook” for today's competitive market. In hindsight, the plot did need to be intensified to fit the underlying themes and backgrounds of my characters.
Problem is, it took two whole weeks to really switch my mind gears from the lovey-dovey Southern California beach scene (where my YA romance takes place) back to the gritty and harrowing world of Los Angeles inner city gang kids. Don't get me wrong, I loved being in the world of my first novel (Kidz In the Wood…a MG about troubled inner city kids at a college-run summer camp, peppered with humor, adventure, and Darwinian themes), but it's a completely different planet than my YA book.
So, I've gone back to TiVo-ing prison documentaries, changed my “Evie's favorites” iPod lineup back to gangsta rap, and spend my evenings with my BFF's Alan Lawrence Sitomer, Walter Dean Myers, and Mark Salzman. (Well, with their books, anyway.) Like a method-actor, I feel like I'm morphing from one role to the next. It's no wonder so many novelists end up going insane, a la Johnny Depp in Secret Window!