New Driver On Board

One year ago to the day, Oldest took his driving permit test.  He seemed completely unruffled even though he hadn’t studied.  And with his dyslexia, I worried about him reading the questions wrong.  By the time we got to the courthouse, I was sick to my stomach.

I guess I should have just listened to him.  He passed as easily as if he had written the handbook himself.

Today is his 16th birthday.  For the past two days, I have been trying to get him to practice parallel parking in the car he would be driving for his test.  No dice. 

“I know how to parallel park.”

Not in this car.

“I’m fine, Mom.  I’ll pass.”

Egads, to have so much misplaced confidence.  No practice, no worrying, no obsessing. 

I know I don’t have to say it, but submitting our writing is waaaaaay different than this.  We do practice.  We write, we hone, we edit, we critique, we cringe, we rewrite, we re-edit and we cringe some more. 

Then, we sit anxiously by our e-boxes and gnaw our fingers to the knuckles.  Unless that’s just me…

Needless to say, Eldest passed his test with a stellar score.  He missed only five total points.  Not bad considering that he forgot to start the car on the way up to the courthouse and couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t shift out of park!

What is your state of mind when you submit a query?  Do you have confidence that your manuscript is ready to go, or are you afraid of knocking over a cone?  How do you prepare for submission?  By working extra hard or simply knowing that if you don’t have it figured out now, it’s never going to happen?

21 responses to “New Driver On Board

  1. I think Paul’s hair turned white trying to teach my daughter to drive in our truck. Thankfully those days are behind us.

    I have quite a bit more work to do yet, but imagine I’ll be writing and rewriting my query, until I finally send it before I get sick of reading it. (Hugs)Indigo

    • Indigo,

      I think that is the trick to a great manuscript–still being able to read it without vomiting. Some days I could strangle my characters with my own hands!

  2. I think there’s always a part of me that is just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel 100% that it’s ready to go.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

    • It’s hard, Lisa. Everytime I go through a manuscript–even the “perfect” ones–I find something I can tweak. Often times it’s many things I can tweak.

  3. Congrats to your son! That’s so exciting 🙂

    Confidence is something I’m working on. It’s so overwhelming when you look at the big picture. Then I look back to what I knew – or didn’t know – a year ago and feel better. Taking things 1 step at a time is the best way for me. And I’m still not sure I’ll ever feel 100% ready 🙂

    • Jemi,

      I think confidence is as important as honing our writing. We have so much to learn in this field and some of it is about ourselves and how we work and knowing what we are capable of and what we need to work on. AQ has been invaluable to me regarding that portion of my growth as a writer. I am indebted to our group for all it has given me.

  4. Cat, that’s great that he passed. Now the hard part – actually letting him drive. It was hard for me to let my oldest drive away that first time.

    (On a side note, your son shares the same b-day as one of mine!) 🙂 Fun little fact…

    Congrats to your son!

  5. Haha oh no Cat- that is NOT just you, I’m just like you: Miss. Panic! 🙂 I stress over every little detail when it comes to writing; I write, I read, I rewrite, I research, I edit but I still feel guilty that I’m not working hard enough…

    • Lua,

      That’s one thing we can’t effectively measure as writers. At least I’ve never been able to. What consititutes a successful day? A word count? Mentally unravelling the plot problems? Coming up with a stellar, new idea? Taking a day off so we can feel rejuvenated for our next batch of words? Reading twenty-seven blog posts that enhance our way of looking at our own writing?

      Such an elusive measurement of achievement.

  6. I loved this one about Oldest. I failed my driving test the first time round when I was 16 even though I had studied and studied. They got me with the decimal point. There are some questions in our testing system that you just CAN’T get wrong. One of them is the question about how much alcohol you can have as a full license driver. I said 0.5 when of course it’s 0.05 Grr. Ive never been good at maths! Instant fail even though I got everything else right. Guess it is pretty important to know, though!

    When I submit Im pretty blasé about it. I just whack things in here and there. That being said, I “whack them” after weeks and weeks of editing, having friends read them and so on. So I am at a point where I feel there is little more that can be done. Then I sit back and hope. After a while I forget so if a positive response comes through it is a huge surprise. Thanks again for a lovely piece.

    • I do the same thing. There comes a point when you know you are finished with a piece. At least as finished as you can get it without further instruction from someone way more experienced than you. At that point, it’s time to let our babies toddle out into the world.

      Glad you eventually passed! Tricky questions like that are one of the reasons I hated taking tests. Especially where numbers are concerned. Give me words any day!

  7. Oh and of course, congratulations to the new driver!! I totally meant to include that in the first go ’round. 😉
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

    • : ) So far he’s a good driver. Much better than the gal who tested after him. She drove right over the sidewalk, grass and curb with both sets of tires. When she returned, the tester did not ask her to park between two other cars in the designated area, but rather had her park in a row virtually by herself…

      I can only hope this translates to safe driving on his behalf while on the road alone.

  8. Cat, what a milestone, you must be very proud. As to sending out writing, well you can probably guess that an oldtimer like me is going to say prepare, research your market, choose your recipients carefully, bury the manuscript in a rose bush for three months and see if it still smells sweet or needs lots more digging.
    But most of us don’t believe that and believe that the first place we whack it to will miraculously be its perfect home.
    So I say, be optimistic, and if that isn’t working for you, take the slow but sure route.

    • Roz, I love your analogy. I think I’ll have to buy a minature rose bush for my NaNoTotem this year. It’s such a great reminder that our first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. We get to prune it, shape it and bury it until it fills the air with its sweetness!


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  10. I like the query process when I start and then after a month or two, I don’t like it anymore. 🙂

    I start out with huge confidence and after a while I start second-guessing. And I have to keep myself from doing that thing where I edit sentences and then edit them back to the way they were again. It’s sad.

    Giving self-pep talks is a big part of the process. And eventually gentle acceptance that I should get to work on that next process. Also, that I’m probably not going to be the next J.K. Rowling and that’s OK.

    Nice analogy with the driving and congrats to your son!

    • Kate,

      I’ve often heard that we are not ready to submit until our story is the best story we’ve read in a long time. To me, it’s kind of like asking a mom if her baby is cute. Hell yes. It’s the cutest baby in the world–even though it’s cue ball bald and has more rolls than a baker’s dozen, all filled with baby slime and blanket lint.

      Then we see the billboards with Gerber babies and realize our chubby bubby might actually be kind of ugly. After all, how can our novels be better than Suzanne Collins’ latest? It’s not possible.

      Or is it…?

  11. I prepare by completely freaking out the week before I send. I go over my manuscript with a fine-toothed comb. I tell myself I’m ready to send, but make myself wait the entire week. This week, needless to say, is utter hell, especially (I suspect) for those around me. Then, after the week is over, I’m so sick of looking at and worrying about the damn thing, that submission is a relief. You’ve probably heard, “allow yourself a shitty first draft.” Well, I say, “allow yourself a week of worry and nail-biting.” ^_^

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