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.

14 comments:

  1. Congratulations on that ray of hope. I wish you the best with the revisions. Sometimes those are easier than the first time through. You know where you're going. You know what you want to keep - and you have some direction for the things that didn't work! You go, Girl!

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  2. This is so cool! And, you know, reading it all at once like that makes a huge difference in being able to spot critical things!
    I'm so excited for you :)

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  3. Thanks guys. You know the thing that got me thinking about this particular manuscript was our critique group. The value of critiquing other writer's work can never be underestimated. I've learned so much.
    Thank God we're not in this alone!

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  4. Patty - that is such a great letter to receive, and like you said, very timely. Good luck and how fabulous is it that you can resend it?! Angela
    ps - thanks for Robin's blog, I haven't been checking it and it's so helpful. I'm reading Theo 2 and loving it.

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  5. OOOOO! *turns cartwheels* That's fantastic, amiga:) *cheers* I'm So excited for you. That's such validation and at a point when you really needed it too. A little message from above telling you that you are on the right track. Yes, when I read the post I have to say I was amazed that you are going to go through once more and edit the story. But guess what? I will be better. And the editorial notes you've gotten are golden. I'm so excited for you. Like you said we are getting farther aren't we? And like you said, it's important that the story is all that it can be. And if you see where you still need to go then chart that course. I can't think of a better place to get clearer on your story than PEI. Can you?

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  6. Angela: Always great to see your name. I love Robin's blog. It has amazing stuff. I admit, she's partly to blame for me wanting to rewrite! I just need to get it better.

    Laura: Funny how we were just talking about this. It is nice to get an encouraging rejection letter but more importantly, I know I can do better.

    Kelly: Thanks for your support. Crazy business, this is!

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  7. It's good to reconnect with you through Tina's blog, Patty, and to read this post was tremendous. To realize on your own the need to "Rewrite the whole bloody thing!" Luckily, you can do it and have an editor who wants you to. This sounds like wonderful progress to me!

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  8. Hi Anne! Great to hear from you. It's been a long time since our wonderful retreat. I've often wondered what happened to our group. I've seen Jean over the years, heard of you through other writer's but nothing on the guy in our group. Can't remember his name...
    Anyway, it is great to be back in touch.
    Thanks for visiting and offering your encouraging words.

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  9. Fabulous news! What a positive and constructive response. And as if you needed any additional motivation, you get to resubmit, too! Congratulations, Miss P.

    Just got back from the VFH (Vacation from Hell as Paul and I are fondly referring to it.) Ear infection escalated, had a severe reaction to the antibiotic, got pink eye and coming home to Goleta on fire. Your news was a bright spot!

    Maggie

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  10. VFH...So funny!Ear infections are not a good thing on vacation. Poor you.
    Hopefully see you before I head to PEI???

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  11. Wahoo! Can't wait to hear more good news!

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  12. Thanks Debby and Vivian! Baby steps but it's progress.

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