Going Forward

At the PNWA conference this summer, I attended a presentation called “What to Expect When You’re Publishing.” I asked the presenter a question that’s been gnawing at me for years…

How do you know? We’re told that you should only start querying agents when your novel is as good as it can possibly get. But we’re also told that, if it gets picked up by an agent and an editor, you’ve got to be on board with making both big and small changes to your manuscript. But if changes need to be made, then it wasn’t as good as it could possibly get, was it? So how do you know? How do you know when it’s ready?

She replied, “If you ever figure that out, please let me know.”

This morning I sent my manuscript to the (so far) few agents who’ve requested the full thing. It was terrifying, and I probably should have paused to eat something more substantial than sixteen ounces of Earl Grey and a granola bar. But I think it’s a good sign that as I was going through, trying to pick out any remaining typos, I got caught up in the story and reread my favorite scenes for the millionth time.

In my I-actually-get-paid-for-this world, my job at the Writing Center at Evergreen sent me and a few of my amazing colleagues to the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing. We attended dozens of fascinating presentations by folks from college writing centers around the country, handed out a couple dozen copies of the latest Inkwell, and came back brimming with ideas for our own Center. I meant to write about that experience sooner, and at greater length…

And then the election happened.

I won’t post solely about politics on this blog, but I’ll say this: our politics are deeply personal because they are a reflection of our values. As a writer, my work is also inextricably linked with my values.

As a writer and a human being, this is my promise to you: I value social justice above my own personal feelings, or even my career. Where I hold privilege, I will listen to those who are marginalized and try to use my privilege to amplify their voices and protect their human rights. Where I am marginalized, I will prioritize self-care and ask for help when I need it.

I promise I will never stop learning or trying to do better.

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