Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dusting off an old manuscript

My first book was a middle grade novel. It was the first book I ever wrote. I thought it was brilliant (see earlier post). Anyways, I haven't really revised the completed book in a couple years. Mostly because I've been working on other projects, and the book had already been revised several times. So I didn't think it needed any more work. At least not until my agent looked at it and could make suggestions.

Well, I've just started this new online critique group and needed something to submit. I thought it would be a good idea to see if coming back to it would open my eyes to anything that needs fixing before handing it over to my agent.

All I can say is....Wow...

Here's what I realized:
  1. How much I love my characters: I fell in love with this novel all over again. I've got so drawn into the characters' world that it's a nice reminder of why I'm writing in the first place.
  2. How not ready it is: the adage of setting something aside and then going back to it with fresh eyes is so true. Now I'm rewriting the whole thing (yes, again). But I've grown so much as a writer over the last couple of years, that the process is fun (yes, I said fun). I am making it soooo much better.
  3. How important critique groups are: the ladies critiquing the first couple chapters have been so "spot-on" and so honest in their critiques that they are exactly what I needed to bring this novel up to the level it needs to be for publication.

So here's my advice: if you've just finished something, or even if you've just finished revision, set it aside. I know, I know. You're excited and want to get it into an agent's or editor's hands pronto. But trust me, set it aside. For at least a couple months. Then go back to it. Or....for those of you who have a manuscript that you have set to the side and it's been a while (months, years), it may be time to dust off the old manuscript. Fall in love with it again.

And then get to work...


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the waiting game...

On the road to publication, it is all about the waiting. You work months, years, maybe even a decade or two to write the perfect novel, and when you're finally ready to get published, it should just happen.


Newsflash: It. Doesn't. Just. Happen.

How do I know? Well, I wrote my first middle grade novel in a month. It was lovely and would be worth millions (I seriously believed that). I sent it off to the big houses and waited. Six months later, I received form rejections from a few of them, and never heard back from most. Okay, so then I decided I needed to learn the ins and outs of the publishing business. I learned about SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), so I joined that and quickly learned there was a conference coming up!

That was the Spring of 2005.

Six years and two other novels later I'm still attending conferences. Still sending out manuscripts. Still waiting. For that moment.

This past spring (May 2010), I was blessed with several agents interested in my second novel (my first novel is in my file cabinet for the time being). All of a sudden everything happened at once. I chose Marissa Walsh from FinePrint Literary. She took my young adult novel and worked with me until it was this amazing manuscript. The total rewrites took almost six months.

So I'm published now, right?

Not yet.

Still waiting...

So if you are just getting into working on this dream of writing and hoping that one day your work will be published, or you've been in the trenches for years. Keep your chin up. You're not alone.