We had a writing group meeting on Saturday, another lovely brunch that lasted all day. Although most of us have known each other for at least a couple of years, I feel that by meeting as a small group, regularly, we are really starting to get to know each other on a different level. The vibe felt different this month, stronger, as though we hit a wavelength or something. For one thing, we talked more about writing and related topics than usual. We still allowed ourselves to digress, but I sensed a growing trust within this group, which is fabulous.
One of the things we discussed at length is when you should start submitting your novel to either editors or agents seeking representation. By this I mean at what stage of the manuscript's development.
There are two basic points of view. The first is that you commence once you have three chapters (or whatever the standard submission amount is) and a synopsis that you're happy with. The advantage of this is that the first three chapters are being assessed while you complete the novel, meaning that you don't "waste time" waiting once you've finished. Because, as we all know, it takes six months to hear anything back and we will most likely have to send our three chapters to many many publishers/agents before acceptance.
The second point of view is that you write and rewrite and rewrite and edit and make it perfect before you send it anywhere. The advantage of this approach is that your manuscript is probably a lot better than it would have been at the three-chapter mark, thus you give yourself more chance of acceptance. Also, you can spend the waiting period writing your next novel, which, if you're a fantasy writer, makes a heap of sense. Because we all know that publishers want fantasy trilogies generally, so books 2 & 3 will be required post-haste!
I confess I subscribe to the second point of view. Others in the group are trying to convince me to start sending my first three chapters out, but the thought makes me shudder. While it is confidence-boosting to have others believe that it is ready, in reality I know that it is not. They just think I am being paranoid and a perfectionist. Well, perfectionist I can handle. But I don't think I'm paranoid or self-effacing. The hard fact is that I know it can be better! And I would much rather have finished the entire rewrite at the very least before sending any of it out. Besides, I haven't yet exhausted my list of potential readers yet. Surely an aspiring novelist needs a trial audience.
So for the moment I will withstand their buffeting and cajoling and teasing. I will finish my rewrite and then I will edit it and then (and only then) will I consider submitting it anywhere. But I'd better actually start writing again soon, or all this will be moot!