Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Behind the Scenes 3: Sweet Caroline

I couldn't worship. Though I tried. I felt tired, weary and instead of gazing at my Redeemer, I danced with panic and fear.

That's it, my career is over.
Nelson is going to wonder... "what the heck?"
I've disappointed my fab editor.

I played out scenarios of my agent calling me with the bad news... "the book is unpublishable." I imagined my editor detailing all the story's flaws and weaknesses.

I felt sick that I'd disappointed her, locked in a funk, unable to escape.

But, I prayed, begged Jesus to help me. In the moments of circling out of funk, surfacing for air, I thought, "well, maybe it's not as bad as I think." I pictured a more favorable e-mail from my editor or agent.

But the black hole awaited. Outside of the Lord taking me up to heaven and handing me a new and better manuscript, I didn't know how He could fix this situation.

After the service, I hunted down friends who I knew could and would pray, who would speak the Word of the Lord, who would press me out of the funk. Funkville is not a great place to be.

First my friend Ted. After praying, he said, "At the end of the day you'll say, 'Look at what the Lord did.'"

Second, my friends Anna and Lin prayed. Anna said, "The Lord is going to do something. Just watch and see." Lin saw a basket of fruit. Little did she know but about a month before the Lord said to me, "I promise you fruit."

I left church encouraged. Kissed by God.

Tired but wired, I managed my way through the day. Susie Warren called to check up on me. "Send me the manuscript."

She spent her Sunday evening and part of Monday reading and editing. She encouraged me."You're on the right track, just rearrange these scenes."

I did. Added senses. Added description.

How did I get here, to this state of unsureness? Well, when I first started Sweet Caroline, I'd developed a southern fiction, saga-esque book in my mind. But I was to write a chick lit. Somehow working my ideas in to a chick lit felt odd and I tried to jump start the story in Sophie Kinsella style with an email. It went down hill from there. At least to me.

Plus, the method of writing forward without stopping to fix or edit just did not work for me.

Anyway, Susie's input helped immensely. Plus, Chris Lynxwiler ever-ready on IM.

By Tuesday, I was feeling good about the book, more confident, less funky. I even took time to meet Davis Bunn and Mark Mynheir for coffee.

Pause. Are you wondering why I didn't ask my editor for a deadline extension? Seems logical. But if I did, it didn't buy me anything. First of all, Tony and I were leaving town the first week of March for eight days. So, that would move my deadline to the end of March after which my editor would be out on maternity leave.

I thought, might as well get her feedback and fix the weaknesses on rewrites. I'm really good at rewrites!

Anyway, when I came home from coffee with Davis and Mark I had an e-mail. Due to a publishing schedule change, I had a new deadline for Sweet Caroline. May 25. Three extra months.

Was I praising God that day? Absolutely! Did I say, "Look at what God did?" Yes. He more than answered my prayer. The new schedule was a win-win for my publisher and me. The email was so encouraging and I was so grateful for the extra time.

Coincidence? Not at all. God knew what I needed. More important, He heard my heart. And He loves me.

I took March off to get some distance and perspective, then reworked the book over April and May. Even though my editor was out with her beautiful new baby, my "other editor" helped me fine tune and polish Sweet Caroline.

Poor Leslie. I practically rewrote it when she handed it back with a few suggestions. In the end, I loved the story and was very happy with how it turned out.

I've learned being close too to a manuscript does not give me an accurate perspective.

Tomorrow, final Behind the Scenes.


Sharon Hayes said...

Rachel, I love reliving this with you. . . . and very encouraging to see and example of our precious Lord's faithfulness. Thank you Jesus

Love Mom

Tracy Ruckman said...

I'm loving this behind-the-scenes look at your struggles - it doesn't come across on the pages at all. Sweet Caroline was seamless. Beautiful story all the way around.

It's an encouragement to me as I struggle with my own books.

Thank you!

Katie said...

This is an awesome reminder of the power of prayer. Thanks, I needed that.

Lynette Sowell said...

What a great testimony. And encouragement as I finish my edits this week. :)