Friday, August 29, 2008

No mercy

When I first read the comments from the editor who judged my middle grade novel in a contest, I was at a loss as to what to do. I wanted to take her recommendations, I wanted to have an open mind, I wanted to be a writer who can revise beyond making cosmetic changes, and I really wanted to send her a partial because she’d taken the time to provide her thoughts. I just didn’t know how.

A good friend and fellow writer very gently suggested that I trim some of the musical details that the editor thought would not appeal to most kids, and that alone may re-balance the various elements well enough.

But trimming didn’t do it.

Ruthless chopping and slashing: that’s what had to take place. I felt occasional pain, but not as deep as I’d thought. During the process, I realize that I couldn’t have done this a few months ago when I first heard from the editor. Perhaps it’s the emotional attachment to the manuscript. Perhaps it’s the discouragement that came from thinking you mean all those revisions are still not enough? Perhaps it’s the need for a stronger validation. I don’t know. I wish I approached my writing (and while I’m at it, all of life) with a detached, objective stance. Everything would be so much more efficient.

Or maybe efficiency is over-rated.

In any case, I now have twenty pages that I’m preparing to send. I am still too close to it to decide how improved this version is. But I know that despite all the changes, I have stayed true to the characters and their story.

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