The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Frustrated. I would say I'm stuck, but it's more like snagged. I could push through this and just get some stuff down on paper--I have a general direction I can go, some specific scenes I could write--but I've been in this boat before and would prefer to get unsnagged first. Sometimes you have to push through to figure out what you're doing, but other times you can push through a whole book and it makes sense and everything fits and it reads well--but it's just not quite up to snuff. That's a really, really tough place to be, because what happens is that there's not anything terribly wrong with the ms except that it's not a standout and it's not engaging enough and somewhere it either veered a tad off course, or never got quite on course. And at that point, it's hard for anybody to tell you what's wrong with it. You can't tell because you've been immersed in it for so long. Few other writers can tell. Editors and agents can't tell either, usually, and they won't bother to try to think about it because any potential fixes are buried, unclear, and often rather large--and why would they want to spend time figuring out what's wrong with a ms that doesn't engage them?

Now I'm getting the willies because I'm thinking of all the writers I know who have sent in a ms that's like this, and the editor tosses off a couple of half@ss ideas re. fixes, and the poor writer actually tries to apply them, assuming that Editor = God. Months or years later the editor sees the fixes and says, "Sorry, this just isn't working for me." And the writer is totally at sea. The horror! The horror!

Have I done this? Sort of. I keep trying new things I don't know how to do, and sometimes an editor will have input and I might or might not start feeling my way into their suggestions. Never turn down free expert advice, I say. But anybody who blindly follows an editor's suggestions is just that editor's b*tch, IMO. They don't know they're an editor's b*tch, bless their hearts. They're entering into the rewrite with a good attitude and good will and hope. But the bottom line is that they're giving up all the power, and doing so is likely to come back and bite them in the you-know-what.

It's a terrible thing to have a failed ms, but it's much, much worse to have a failed ms that's not even close to your own vision anymore.

No, far better to take your time and unsnag yourself. I had better d*mn well get a stronger feel for this ms.

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