Several late-night conversations with Kevin recently -- is this book good enough? Good enough for what? As defined by whom? If it's not as dense as the last book, is that okay? Who says dense is better? (Graduate school, I think.) Karina tells me that she likes this novel better than BiM, even if it's less dense (and is it therefore less literary?). I think she's right, most of the time, but there's a part of me that is quietly panicking all the time, asking things like, "Are we going to fall to second-book-syndrome, where everyone says, 'oh, the first one was so much better -- too bad she only had one good book in her'?" Or, "It's my first actual *novel* -- doesn't it have to be absolutely fabulous??? If not, I'll never be able to publish a book again!"
Then I tell myself to breathe -- or, more often, Kevin and Karina and Jed tell me to breathe. That it'll all be okay. That this doesn't have to be the best novel ever written, or even the best novel I'll ever write. That as long as it's a book I love, with strong characters and a compelling story, it's going to be a good book, and people will like reading it. And then Karina says that she still loves it and gets totally caught up in it, even after umpteen reads. Jed tells me that it still makes him cry. And then Bob tells me that it makes him cry too, which makes me feel even better, because, y'know, Bob's a hard-core agent/editor type, and if I can make him cry, that's worth something. (Whereas Jed, much as I love him, is a known softie. :-).
And I read over some of the best bits myself, and I start getting caught up in the story again, and feeling so sorry for my poor munchkins, my characters who have worked themselves into such an awful tangle that for much of the book it seems like they're heading straight for disaster. They try so hard, and they mess up so much! And then, somehow, they sort it out, or at least mostly out, and at the end of the book, I breathe a sigh of relief. And I close the file, and send it off, and right now, I'm thinking, this is a good story. I like it a lot. I think a lot of people would read and love this novel, this story, these people.
Now we wait and see whether my editor agrees.