10/14/2010 02:57 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Making of a Novel: My Pages, Myself

I just sent 37 pages of my new novel to my agent. I didn't plan on doing it. I just...did. I just woke up and blasted an email, and now the pages are gone. I am, of course, sitting here thinking that those pages might not be ready for the spotlight. I'm sitting here thinking how awful it's going to feel if she comes back and says she doesn't love them. (Yeah, pretty much anything short of love will feel awful. If I'm being honest, that's the truth.) There's a little bit of real estate in the pit of my stomach devoted to the possibility that my agent -- whom I adore -- is going to come back and say that not only does she not love my pages, she doesn't love me.

Only two days ago, I was telling a new class of writers that the worst thing a writer can do is take her work personally. "You are not your pages," I said, "When someone comments that they don't like you, the character, they are not commenting on you, the person."

Easy to say -- not to easy to live.

Writers are also always advising other writers to keep writing. When you send out work to be read, or you're pitching agents, or you're pitching editors and you're waiting, waiting, waiting for feedback, the best thing to do is keep writing. Being immersed in work is the only good antidote to waiting.

So I'm going to work on page 38 today, and tomorrow I'll work on page 39. Easy to say -- and actually, easy to do, too. For writers, anyway, writing provides its own solace.

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