Newbie Post #5: Let it go! Let it go! Turn away and slam the door!


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?

Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons

Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons

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.

Girl Asleep On Her Notebook Computer

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.

open blank book and puzzles concept

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!

Newbie Post #1
Newbie Post #2
Newbie Post #3
Newbie Post #4

9 thoughts on “Newbie Post #5: Let it go! Let it go! Turn away and slam the door!

  1. Crap. This post went right to my heart. I’ve finished the first book of a MG fantasy series and I’m always worried about the constant threat of being compared to J.K. Rowling. But I can’t trunk this story. It keeps coming back to bite me in the brain. I’m terrified of all the things you talked about above, dang it! I want this story out there, but yes, I’m afraid of so many things. I feel like any MG fantasy is automatically put up to J.K.’s now “gold standard” books. Which, although not fair, is understandable given her talent. Argh!!! Right. In. The. Heart.


    • I love that JK gave us a gold standard for writing MG, but she covered so much ground with her novels it can be very difficult to find new places to find a niche. Don’t give up. Look for an agent and a good one will be able to steer you right. No agent worth their salt will take on a book that will have obvious legal issues, so if you get a good one interested then you’ve written something worth publishing. I don’t read a lot of MG anymore, but I’m sure readers are thirsty for a new fantasy book they can sink their teeth into. I haven’t seen a lot out there. Good luck!


      • Thank you! Yes, it’s very intimidating. Terrifying, really. I rarely have those thoughts out of my head except when I’m completely immersed in the story. The one thing I think J.K. and I have in common is that her stories are set in a school, and mine at a boot camp with a school-like structure. There are also seven books in the series. Other than that, if there are similarities, they’re accidental.

        However, I’ve read a lot of MG books/series that are based in some form of learning environment. But that makes sense to me. For that age range, the kids are in school. I think it helps them succeed when they see characters that are put through the same trials and can still come through, even during really tough times.

        I hope that doesn’t sound like defensive drivel. I didn’t mean for it to. Thanks for the vote of confidence! I needed it!


      • School-like settings I believe are popular with MG readers. They like to draw a parallel between theirs and the book they’re reading. Boot camp sounds awesome! I can see kids loving it. Percy Jackson has a summer camp vibe, HP the private school, and their are others I can’t think of, but keep writing. I know my book needed to be trunked for now, but I may come back to it. I hate to see kids denied a chance to read a good story so get it out there!


      • I haven’t read the Percy Jackson books, but I knew there was a camp involved. You can’t go on the Geek page on Pinterest without a million memes there about every MG series. 🙂
        I’m hoping kids like it. I’ve had a few kids read it and they haven’t compared it with HP at all, so that’s a good sign. And they’re both HP fanatics. But I know they won’t count for the whole.


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