All books start out as a seed, a breath. Only with nurturing can that seed bloom. Some writers are unable to move on after the initial burst of growth. They put away their stories which are nothing deeper than that first layer of imagination. An onion-skin of creativity. That is how we all begin, with an onion-skin, a transparent membrane too fragile to stand alone.
There aren’t many of us who go back and try again. Quite a large percentage give up. Reasons vary. We can’t take criticism. We can’t keep our minds open. We’re tired, maybe even bored with the story, and we just want it out of our lives. We let friends read it too soon, or we query too soon. Our will power declines, our passion dwindles, our dream fades. Suddenly, writing isn’t as much fun as we thought it would be.
Then there are those of us whose calling it is to be a writer. We square our shoulders and return to our struggling creations. We prune the growth, dig up the root ball and transplant it. Hopefully this second time, we’ll be able to offer more wisdom, more honesty, more vulnerability. We complete it for the second time, but we’re not finished. We likely love it more, but something is not quite right. The ending is rushed. The antagonist is one-dimensional. The setting doesn’t fill the senses. Too many words. One problem or a web of problems, whatever it may be.
Suddenly we have a tough choice to make. We invested a huge chunk of time by this point. And the book won’t soar. You probably know this or maybe you don’t know. Either way, you hold out hope for its success.
I have reached this fork in the road at least half a dozen times with my novel. Do I pack it in? Do I self-publish anyway? Do I roll up my sleeves and dig again?
As much as I may have clawed, scratched, kicked, and screamed—I always rolled up my sleeves and dug around for a stronger story. I revised my years-old manuscript until it hurt, literally.
So, how do I know when I’m done writing and nurturing? How do I know when it is time to send it out? As a writer who isn’t exactly brimming with confidence, I don’t know if I’ll ever see the day where I am 100% satisfied with my work. I can always find a glitch, a hiccup, somewhere. Then there is the public. No way in Hellula can writers please every single agent, publisher, or reader. So, one rejection does not necessarily mean I’ll get 50 rejections. But one rejection could mean I’ll get 50 rejections.
How do we know when our book is ready?
Perhaps the question needs to be, how do we know when we’re ready to let go?
This post by Kourtney Heintz is a friendly warning to writers who have a hard time being objective with their books.
I think writers need to bond with their books in order to write them. However, I think writers need to break that bond in order to sell them.
I think, with practice, letting go gets easier. We begin to see our book in a different light. We happily whittle away words or whole scenes–passages that we once hung onto with desperation. The characters, who used to tread through our minds as we washed dishes or drove a car, visit less frequently, are less demanding. Perhaps other characters, from story ideas that have been waiting anxiously for their turn, are knock-knock-knocking on our imaginations. You go through your final draft with more confidence, satisfaction. You realize that you have written this novel to the best of your ability, you have done the story justice.
Suddenly, it feels okay to let go. You know there are no guarantees. You know it might be rejected. But you’re okay because you’re ready for whatever happens. Even if no one else wants to take a risk on it, then you will figure things out. You’ll be disappointed, but not beaten. You’ll still move forward because in your heart you know you accomplished a mind-blowing goal.
What about you? Have you been able to move on from your book? How did you do it?