Imagine you've spent years laboring over your novel. Your publisher is waiting. Your agent is waiting. Your spouse is waiting. You finally send the first 80 pages to your agent. Next thing you know, your agent is standing on your doorstep. And the news is not good.
This, according to a recent article, is what happened to Tom Franklin when writing his bestselling novel Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (described in the article as "an ultimately sweet tale of two half brothers--one white and one black...a crime novel with a little mystery thrown in, a meditation on race and relationships, and a character study" titled after "the way children in the South learn to spell Mississippi").
To me, Franklin's process is a story of the village it takes to make a book--which includes an agent's tough love, a publisher's patience, a spouse's wisdom--but which begins and ends with a writer's absolute persistence and willingness to:
chuck stuff out
move stuff around
find and refind that knife-edge balance between trust in self and trust in others regarding one's work
..and then, if necessary, do it all over again. And again. And... .
And delivering the manuscript, in some ways, is just the beginning. Myriad minds, hands, and hearts engage with a book as it moves through the publishing process: being edited, copyedited, designed, typeset, proofread, indexed (if nonfiction), catalogued, sold in, printed, bound, shipped, and published. Every book, successful or not, embodies this massive exertion of time and will. Hats off to the writer, and to the village.