Passing Inspection

February 21, 2012 § 3 Comments

Our county’s inspection office is rigorous and thorough. In fact, these people are notorious in the construction industry here in central Florida … but that’s a good thing! Who wants to learn after-the-fact that that new roof wasn’t tied down according to the 1996 hurricane building regulations? Who wants to know after the lightning strikes that the new screens on the lanai weren’t grounded properly.

Sanders Florida Room

We passed and our new Florida Room is now ready to move in … just as soon as Tom has steamed the new tile floor one more time!

I almost hate to move in, though. It’s so pristine and pure … so glistening! I can’t think of a worse sin (well, I can, but that’s another blog) than cluttering up that wonderful, lovely new space!

But of course, we will … Murphy’s Law, etc.

Ever thought about how many times in our lives we have to ‘pass inspection’? So much angst. So many sleepless nights!

  • School Exams
  • Routine Physicals
  • Driver’s License
  • First Dates
  • Meeting the In-laws
  • Interviewing for a Job

For a writer, the ‘inspections’ begin when we write that first short story and are brave enough to share it with a critique group. The next test of our skill comes from that editor we want to buy the story and publish it. Or the agent we hope will represent that novel to the publishing world.

There are those writers who have a hard time finishing a project, and then, once they have, just can’t let it graduate … can’t push the ‘baby’ out of the nest. That manuscript is like my new Florida Room … pristine, uncluttered, un-tainted by human hands.

But eventually, they do it. They mail it to an editor or agent … and wait … and wait ….

Finally, the manuscript returns in its SASE (Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelope) with a standard rejection letter—‘doesn’t fit our list’, etc.—all semi-neatly copied by an assistant.

I’ve known writers who collected ‘nonstandard’ rejection letters with pride … ‘she signed it herself and said she thought it had promise!’

That’s when the questions begin. Why didn’t she want it if it has promise? What does that mean? Who knows? And that’s the problem! With a construction inspection, you get a detailed report on what needs to be fixed in order to pass next time. With writing, you don’t get that!

Last year my agent and I had high hopes for my YA historical fiction novel, but editor after editor said no. Finally, one editor gave us a review and it changed my perspective. Her suggestions made needed revisions clear.

I will soon embark on the rewrite of that novel … now aimed at the middle grade reader (9-12). Meanwhile, I have been hard at work with the final revisions to another middle-grade novel … another historical, this one starring a boy of 12 in 1774 western Virginia. I will be sending it out into the world, via my agent, hopefully to pass inspection and gain an audience.

And then, I will begin the cycle all over again with a new project. After all, that’s what we do, we writers. We send our ‘children’ out into the world and hope they pass instruction.

Cross your fingers! That’s an order!


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