For the past year, I’ve been rewriting my debut novel, “Come As You Are.” And I do mean re-writing. I had completed many surface revisions in the years prior, had pursued agents thinking that, the next one I contacted would be the one, all the while pushing down the nagging thought that my book might not be good enough. Take a look at my previous post from last fall to see how this book was rescued from the ashes.
What I did was rather crazy. Rather than just set my novel aside as a learning experience, and go on to writing the next, I started it over from page one. Added characters. Added all sorts of complications for my protagonist. This led to added emotion, which leads ultimately to added reader interest. The new book (and it really is a "new" book since 95% of the old one is gone) is 150 pages longer, and every page is there for a reason, moving the plot forward.
Most writers draft out three or more novels before writing one that’s publishable. (When you see an author listed as “debut” that doesn’t mean she hasn’t written several other books, just that this is the first to find a publisher.) I took a different tack. I wrote the same book, half a dozen times. Why did I do this? Why did I ignore my inner critic, that bitchy voice in my head that says, honestly, are you really going to write about this? Wouldn’t you rather go back to a nice, reliable job of writing ad copy for scented candles? (I’ve done this.) Wouldn’t you rather write about kittens? (Done that.)
I did it because I had to follow my heart. That sounds hokey, I know. It might not have been my heart I was following, but instead some part of my brain that just wouldn't let me go on to any other project (or sleep a restful sleep) until I got this book right. Now, with polished manuscript in hand, the next step toward publication is finding an agent, which is a long, hard road that I’ve been down before (leading to near-misses with a much lesser book).
I’m more optimistic this time, but I’m also stronger, less desperate, and that's key. Animals, and publishing professionals, can smell fear... A couple years ago, I thought the worst thing that could happen to me was that I wouldn’t find an agent who would then sell this book. Over the past year, I’ve come to know that the worst thing that could happen is that I wouldn’t have the courage to tell the story I’d set out to tell. I’m proud of this book, and I hope you'll have a chance to read it. For more on “Come As You Are,” click here.
Coming soon… a tour of the closet!