By Alec Clayton
Yesterday I finished what I think was the third (can’t keep count) complete rewrite, start to finish, of my new novel Teacher. With deep thanks to Brynn Garman, Rin Westcott, Steve Tarry, Cameron Combs, Bryan Willis, Mian Carvan, Margaret Culbertson, Brady Olson, SJ Boyle, Nancy Sigafoos, Diane Sawyer, Don Orr Martin, Megan Kruse, Bev Sykes, Ned Hayes, and as always to my wife, Gabi Clayton, for their help, advice, and encouragement; and dedicated to Crystal Chaplin and her sons André Thompson and Bryson Chaplin.
The story begins with a damaged and uncertain Eva McRoy, a bisexual high school English teacher in Olympia, Washington who lost her child after a tumultuous divorce. Her self-identity is now under threat at work and in relationships. Yet Eva grows in identity and power as she starts an LGBT support group, protests a police shooting, and survives a school shooting herself. Through these struggles, she discovers a passion for justice and renews a sense of self that was waning. (Thanks, Ned Hayes for writing this description.)
Teacher is my tenth novel, and I truly believe the most perfectly crafted and the most personal. When I reached the last page and read what I had written about Eva and Johnny I almost started crying—not out of relief that I had finished the damn thing but out of happiness for Eva and Johnny.
And guess what I did immediately after I reached the end. I went back to page one and started all over again. This time not to make any major changes but to catch any typos I might have made in the rewrite. I should be able to finish it in a day or two. It’s a little book at 50,500 words.
Next comes the dilemma of whether to continue searching for an agent or to self-publish. Finding an agent and publisher could mean giving up autonomy and being forced to accept changes I might not want to accept, but it could also mean much better distribution and publicity than we can get on our own with Mud Flat Press.
Truth is, I’ve already tried to find an agent with no success. I started sending out queries and sample chapters long before it was ready—a big, big mistake; I should have known better. It’s been rejected by fifty agents already. Literary agents will not accept re-submissions of already-rejected books, so I’m kind of running out of opportunities. If any of my writer friends out there have connections, your help would be greatly appreciated.