“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ menRobert Burns, “To A Mouse”
Gang aft a-gley.”
In March 2019 I shared happy news: I had an editor for The Curve of the Corridor, aka Space Crazies. As I noted at the time: “No set deadline yet. I’m setting aside the summer to incorporate her edits and hope to have the manuscript ready for queries in time for #PitMad in September”. You’ll note that there was no set deadline and yet I needed enough time to both do the edits, send it for critique, and have it ready for PitMad in September. Both of those things couldn’t be true.
Truth was, we had talked about deadlines. Back in January, when the editor-in-question and I first started talking about Curve, I shared my biggest worry: that it would take months of waiting on my end and no work would get done. The novel has a lot of moving parts, a lot of POV characters, three different timelines. Possibly four. It’s complicated–too complicated for me–and I was worried that it might be too tricky for a novice editor just starting her freelance career. It had already languished for six months in a beta-reading limbo, accomplishing nothing, and I did not want that to happen again. I wanted firm-footing, even if that meant proceeding slowly, and the editor-in-question agreed.
I could give you a detailed timeline of what happened next, but as I started to type it out it only served to make me angry all over again, so, suffice it to say: it was a garbage winter, everyone was having problems, I was knee-deep in the creative swamp that was Fletcher & Cooper. When deadlines needed to be pushed back here and there I was amenable. A two-week reading period turned into two months. Two months to do the full developmental edits turned into four.
The finished edit was supposed to come back to me April 30th. That due date was extended one last time to May 15th.
No plan survives contact with the enemy, goes the saying, but I’d take it a step further: no plan survives contact with reality.
That being said, certain things invariably pin down others. Schedules often need a foundation, a starting point. For me it was a work-back deadline: I needed Space Crazies back in May so that I could take the rest of May plus June and July to edit feverishly (possibly sponsored by RedBull or Monster). I gave myself August to send to critique partners (whom I was already lining up). While waiting for their feedback I would work on the query package. Being ready for September’s #PitMad seemed hard, but achievable.
So when the email I was expected on May 15th came in, revealing itself to be an apology letter–not only was the work not done but she was dropping me as a client because she’d overstretched herself–that entire schedule dissipated into a cloud of red vapour.
It took me two days to calm down enough to reply. I can honestly say I haven’t been that angry in a very, very long time.
Exactly what I was worried about back in January: six months of waiting coming to nothing. There had been numerous chances during check-ins to tell me that it wasn’t working, that I should make a back-up plan, but instead I got updates and gushing and assurances that everything was clicking along the tracks just fine.
So here I am in the third week of May with a now-useless summer schedule. I still need to find a new editor–preferably an experienced one with references I can check–but even if I had managed to contact one on That Wednesday, it would be months before I’d get Space Crazies back, and more months after that to do the work suggested. If I am lucky, I might make December’s #PitMad. That’s a year and a half after I finished my own edits of the manuscript.
Without Space Crazies to submit, my submission goal of 200 subs by the end of 2019 relies on assorted short fiction (currently I only have 4 pieces worth sending out) and queries for Blackout Odyssey. And BOO, unfortunately, is looking pretty bleak. (But that’s a post for another week.)
I’d gone to sleep on the Tuesday with a solid schedule, a working plan, and woken up on Wednesday to disarray, and I am still trying to figure my way out. Here we are. Where is here? Not sure yet.
I don’t have an ending. There is no conclusion. This post is adrift as I feel.
Hopefully I’ll have better news next week.