Tuesday, July 1, 2008
A little hope...
It has been a big week in the life of my first novel. A couple of months ago, I deemed my book ready (and worthy, I might add) of publication or at least consideration. I compiled a small list of houses, researched the editors, read their books, and committed their submission policy to memory. I made a goal of when I would submit (and posted it on my blog) and felt quite strongly about my research.
(So, you're probably waiting for me to spout the good news. Sorry. No big ones to report just a small one. Read on...)
After making these bold preparations, I hesitated. I had just finished reading a slew of really good books and one night, just before bed, I asked myself if I wrote the story I wanted. Did I do all that I could do to make the story zing? Was it worthy of sitting on the same shelf as the books I just read? I went to bed that night unsure.
The next day, I printed out the entire manuscript and read the whole thing in two sittings. I hadn't read this manuscript in it's entirety for at least a year. Sure, I revised certain chapters brilliantly, but somehow I assumed the whole thing morphed into one big final revision without even checking.
I was disappointed.
There were some definite plot errors, character inconsistencies and a few extraneousness scenes. No big deal. I could fix that. But, the really big issue...the feeling I came away with was that I didn't go deep enough with the story. I left it simmering on the stove when it really needed to be popped in the oven. My character didn't take my breath away like she used to.
To say I felt oddly depressed was an understatement. I knew what I had to do: rework the entire manuscript. Yes, REWRITE the whole bloody thing. New Character GMC. New internal and external goals...the whole shebang.
Those who have traveled this road with me and who have read a certain number of my revisions will surely think I'm crazy. I'm almost positive that I am.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because there's always a little hope that you might have something...
Yesterday ( here's the itty, bitty good news) I went to the mailbox and found a SASE. It was from an editor at Philomel. I submitted the book in question after the LA Writer's Day.
As I held the envelope in my hand, I knew it was a rejection. At this point, I recall thinking that all the joys that come from writing are just not worth this horrible feeling one experiences moments before opening up such a letter.
But I was wrong.
The letter made me cry.
The editor was personal, kind, encouraging, offered helpful feedback and ...get this!...invited me to resubmit. I've never been invited to resubmit so this was HUGE for me.
Happy moment. Sigh.
Okay, so why reboot the entire novel?
See this is the thing that was so wonderful about this timely letter. What the editor said about my novel is essentially what I discovered on my final read through. I agreed with her. But more importantly, she didn't have to tell me. I discovered it on my own. To me, this is what I'm after. A little self-knowledge.
This is an unbearably long post. I know.
Sometimes it feels so easy for writers to whip out fantastic manuscripts, get published and do marvelous things. For the rest of us? I believe we'll get there, especially if we have a story that lives in our hearts and needs to be told.