Saturday, October 29, 2011

Still Crazy

Last night, I was at a party with some people I hadn't seen in awhile, which means I had to answer the oft-repeated question, "How's the book coming?" This question isn't so easy to answer anymore. First of all, which book? The one I thought was "finished"? The one I just started? The one I have notes for, but am saving until the other two are done? Plus, I wrote three essays this month and put some short stories into a collection to send out to contests.

All of this should make me feel a bit dizzy, but instead I really feel exhilerated right now. More is better. More types of things being written (different pieces, different genres) increases my chances of publication, while strengthening my writing muscles.

But what I'm most excited about is a rewrite of book one. I've been querying it, getting nibbles, getting positive comments from agents, but with vague reasons (or no reason at all) for why they aren't taking it. Then I had the good fortune to meet an editor, via Twitter, and to win a contest on her blog which resulted in an edit of my first chapter.

Suddenly, everything is as clear as the sky outside my writing closet this morning. She interpreted the "agent-speak;" she showed me exactly where my story falls and where it rises, and how to fix the spots where I might lose readers.

The good news: it's never been about my "writing" (i.e. how I put a sentence together). Agents have confirmed this. They've always loved the "voice" and the "style" and the "theme." But then they trail off into murkiness about momentum, or worse, the economy...

Thanks to fairy godmother-editor, Diane, I now see it's all about pacing. Can I fix this? Yes. Will it be hard? Sure, but no harder than anything else I've done with the book, and perhaps a bit easier. The truth is, I can't stop trying to make this book better (I've tried to put it in the proverbial drawer). It's an important book. It deserves to be read, by people beyond my own home.

My next task is to make a big old chapter-by-chapter timeline, then give it a little shake and let the scenes fall into a more pleasing order, then fill in the blanks with new scenes where needed. No big deal, right? I should have done this a long time ago, but at least I'm doing it. Onward and upward.