Sunday, January 2, 2011

Leaving It On the Page


I have a completed manuscript and have shared pieces with a handful of agents, under the ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ rule.  Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that they have heard me say, at least once, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.  All they can do is say no.  Will you be any worse off than you are right now?”   Define worse?

Granted it is a very small sample, a testing of the waters.  But I received comments like “I didn’t fall in love with it” and “I didn’t find the writing as strong as I would have liked…”   Rejection sucks.  But, is it really the worst that can happen?  No, quitting is the worst that can happen.

Trust me, I know I am not the only writer to get rejected and have no illusion that this is THE Great American Novel.   I do not believe that millions will gnash their teeth and rend their clothes if I quit.  But I would be less of who I am, if I don’t keep going.  Truth be told, the little voice in my head whispered that it wasn’t the best it could be, but I had looked at it too long to see it anymore.  Or , perhaps it was just self-doubt whispering to my insecurities?  I wouldn’t know until I tried.  So, having nursed a slightly bruised ego, I asked myself how I could make it stronger, make it something someone would fall in love with? 

At the same time, something a family member wrote was shared with me.  It was not fiction, but an explanation of things past and the effect on the present.  It shared their pain and disappointment in others and how that changed their life course.  I was proud of their courage.  They left it all on the page and it was powerful.   

I write fiction, paranormals to be precise.  The kind of stuff that people read in the hope of disappearing into a world that is an escape from the everyday, whatever that may look like for them.  But, I learned a strange lesson from my family member.   Maybe what I need to do to make to make my story stronger  is not just eliminate backstory and murder my darlings but leave a good measure of myself on the page.

So back to the edits and, I hope, more feedback.   Bring it on!