Dear Miss Snark,
I am a faithful reader of your blog and in need of your opinion. Last summer (August) at a writer's conference, I received requests from both an editor and agent for my second manuscript.
Six weeks later, as I about to print out a finished, polished version for each, my computer and the saved CD backups, went corrupt on me. I lost the entire manuscript. (I have since learned to do more saves in different locations and medias.)
I did notify the editor of this event as she and I were in correspondence about my first ms, which she had on her desk but ultimately, took a pass on. She did state in her last email (last October) that she was still interested in reading my second manuscript when it was ready.
Now, five months later and I am only half way complete with rewriting. Besides personal and professional dignity (both of which are shaky now) the only thing keeping me from trashing this rewrite from scratch/memory all together are the requests. I have no delusions that the editor or the agent is waiting with baited (unless you think we stink, it's bated) breath for this book. I know that each passing day isn't helping, but I guess I'm asking if it's hurting the situation and if I should offer an explanation of the delay and remind of the initial request to both the editor and the agent when I finally get this book in the mail?
You'd be surprised to learn perhaps that Miss Snark herself has had to slink into editorial offices with a delayed manuscript. For a lot of reasons. In fact there are so many reasons an index under "Manuscripts-delay thereof" gives numbers so all you have to say is "sorry this is late; reason #12".
1. dog eating
2. computer crashing
3. stars realigning
4. death of writer (metaphysical)
5. death of writer (physical)
6. discovery of aliens in chapter 14
7. failure to paginate with base ten system
8. failure of will to finish
9. mysterious stench of fear emanating from pages
Agents and editors want good projects. We understand the travails of life and computer systems. We may screech a lot about it, we certainly don't PREFER things be delayed, but life proceeds at its own pace despite all exhortations from Miss Snark.
Finish it. Let it sit for a bit. Re-read. Fix. Send.
Say "I'm sorry this didn't arrive sooner. Thanks for your patience". No further explanations required.