Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Jessica Barksdale Inclán: The Same Old Story
A few months ago, I was staring at the third editing letter from an editor at a large publishing house. She loved my novel . . . but. We'd gone through two rounds of edits, had a phone conference with my agent, and she had one last huge round of edits before she was willing to make an offer.
After my agent sent me that letter, I commenced immediately to editing, going through the manuscript for what felt like the millionth time (I wrote the first draft of this story in 2003!). I needed to sell this novel--I needed to show that I could still do it, and do it I would. But as I typed the last word into what might have been the final edit, I sat back. I took my hands away from the keyboard; I looked out the window.
It was time to stop the madness. All I had just done was to write more of the same problem into the manuscript. I was taking the problem, putting a new saddle on it, and trying to trick the editor and probably myself into making it appear like a new ride. But it wasn't.
It was time to stop. To let go. I had to admit to myself that I wasn't going to sell to this editor at this big publishing house. I wasn't going to get an advance any time soon. Not with this manuscript.
And in that letting go, I came up with a plan that was really about creating something that I liked. The new story I began working on had perhaps the same spine, but it was now completely different, new, exciting, and interesting--at least to me. And the good news was that I didn't miss the old story, the one that had been changed and rewritten over and over again. It had become the thing I had to do to get to what I was writing now, the new story, the one that had grown out of the ashes. Right now, my agent is going over this new draft, and who knows? It might go out to editors in June. Or--well, it might not.
The tale of the eight year long rewrite isn't over yet, but the lesson for me is clear. At some point--with writing and just about everything--there comes a time when we look at what's in front of us and say, "No more." The manuscript, the person, the job, the plan, the course of action are all wrong. The fit isn't. The satisfaction not. The hope gone.
Time to saw through the rope and let whatever it is sail off to sea. Wave at it or him or her. Think thankful thoughts. After all, without that challenge, we wouldn't be where we are. But know it's over. We've let go. And now we can go on.
Jessica Barksdale Inclan
This month, I'm having a giveaway of my backlist. The first ten folks who post a comment and then send me an email can have their pick (while supplies last!) of The Instant When Everything is Perfect, The Beautiful Being, or an ebook of choice. My web site has desrciptions of all.
Posted by Jessica Barksdale Inclan at 1:00 AM