Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Write what you love, tested

I didn’t tell the whole story about the Sandy contest in yesterday’s post. I placed second—you can see the results of the contest here—and that’s good news, but more significant than that (for me, at least) is that the judge for the finals requested a partial...if I rewrite it according to her suggestions.

No brainer, of course I would rewrite.

Let’s see. Yes, she’s right, I can be clearer about this, and I can pick up the pace, and I’ll even think of a new title.

But she suggested that I reposition my novel as a mystery that happens to take place in a music camp, rather than a music camp story that happens to have a mystery. Makes sense: after all, mysteries appeal to more kids than music camp stories do. The only problem is that the original impulse for the book is the music camp story; the mystery came later.

Here is how the arguments went, more or less, between me and myself:

Me: Are you crazy? An editor asks to you reposition your story and you’re hesitating?

Myself: What happened to write what you love?

Me: Yes, but you have to be practical. She works in the industry, she knows about commercial potential of books. You write what you love but if it’s not marketable it won’t be published. I thought you wanted to get published.

Myself: Of course I want to get published.

Me: Don’t you know how busy editors are? And how little time they spend on unproven writers? Here you have someone who took the time to read your work, give you her suggestions, and offers to read a partial, and you’re not jumping on the opportunity? I reiterate, are you crazy?

Myself: I could very well be.

Me: Make the changes already. Don’t be so rigid with your book. Haven’t you heard of writers who are so obstinate about their ideas when those ideas just will not fly? And they end up old and bitter and unpublished.

Myself: Wait, I have made changes, significant ones, based on suggestions from several other industry professionals, and I am accepting all the other suggestions from this editor. It's just that this particular change is fundamental.

Me: So it's fundamental. But what does it hurt to make the changes to see what you come up with? If you think you can’t live with it, then go back to your original story.

Myself: What if I make the changes and send her the partial and she rejects it anyway?

Me: So you'll have spent time shaking your story up and looking it from a different perspective, and you'll have given yourself a chance to prove you can rise to the challenge. And the downside of that is?

Myself: Don't be so smug. Just because you're right sometimes doesn't make you superior.

Me: What's that? You're admitting I'm right?

Myself: Stop gloating.

No comments: