I apologize for the title, but I couldn’t resist. It was so perfect!
So there I was, my 130,000 word MG novel at its first draft. Yes, 130,000 word MG novel. Then came the editing stage, something that was completely new to me. I knew my word count was high, but hey, J.K Rowling did it, right?
Another lesson learned. J.K. Rowling can do whatever she wants because she’s J.K. Rowling. I had no concept of cutting scenes, finding the most important to keep, not padding my world building with a lot of unnecessary material, reducing number of characters, etc., etc.
I asked some poor, abused family members to read. One still has my printed manuscript in binders. That was six years ago. I’m hoping they’ve disposed of it by now. Anyway, my sister thought it was good. Of course she did. She’s my sister.
Onward and upward to finding beta readers. They thought the writing was good, though they had a lot of ideas for cutting and condensing. More work. Great! I love writing and I’m happy to edit. This was fantastic.
And so it went for a good year. Cutting. Editing. Obsessing over what to cut and what to edit. More editing. More thinking. Every spare minute dedicated to a manuscript and characters that I loved. I had a whole series planned and some were destined for death while others for a somewhat happy ending. The groundwork was laid for an in depth MG series.
There was just one problem. Okay, there was more than one problem. The writing was decent (I think), the story was intriguing, my characters were well developed, but it was still way too long and it smacked of Harry Potter. You just can’t write another book in that vein anymore. The chances of getting published are minuscule, but the chances of getting sued are through the roof. Not to mention the fan base would tear you apart for even attempting such a lofty goal. No, it wasn’t fan fic, but only someone who’d been living under a rock for the past twenty years wouldn’t notice the correlations.
I knew all the problems that existed with my novel and the unlikely chance it would get published. The belief that I was a writer, and that was my career (despite the absent paycheck) had taken hold and I knew I had to make the decision that was best for my career. It was time to let it go. Trunk it. Maybe some day I’d come back when I could divorce myself from writing the next HP and just take my characters on the journey they were meant to take. We’ll see.
And I had this idea, about a girl who lived alone for two years after a plague wiped out mankind, or so she thought. The story wouldn’t let go, and I was filling notebooks with research and plotting and character development.
Somewhere along the way I found out I was pregnant with twins. Morning sickness took over and then my babies were born almost three months early. We spent months in the hospital, followed by the life changing experience of bringing home preemie twins. I didn’t write much for almost a year and half, but I had I Have No Name planned in detail in my head and in notebooks. I just had to start writing.
Writing isn’t just about the fame or the money (however small they may be) or even getting published, but to take the purist attitude that I am only an artist, I will write what I want despite the market and I will pay no attention to such mundane things as the business side of writing is tantamount to career suicide. I will state it loud and clear. My goal is to be published, have a decent following and make enough money that I can justify it as a career and continue writing. Anything less is failure in my book.
I understand I may not reach my goal, but I will do whatever I am capable of to achieve it just the same. Even if it means giving up on a novel that will never be published. There may come a time I say that about my current WIP, and I already have several ideas vying for the right to come alive. That is the business of writing, and though it was very painful to let that MS go, it was the right thing to do. You can’t hang your career on one manuscript. Or even two. Some authors publish their first efforts, but most do not and I will not let my first “failure” inhibit me from moving on.
Newbie Post #6: Where we discuss why not publishing your first MS is not failure!