|(Here's the tl;dr: the novel isn't a novel, |
it's essentially an outline for three novels.
After three years of working on it I
could give up but I'm not going to.)
I lost most of September and nearly all of October to stress and doubt about my writing among other things. But some really great things have happened during that time and I'm back on track.
The big thing is that the novel that I wrote starting back in 2011 during NaNoWriMo (with lots and lots and lots of revisions) is still here without representation or any publishing offers. I got a couple of requests for partials and one request for a full manuscript but ultimately everyone has passed on it.
I shared the book with my very good friend and sometime editor Sara who came back with nearly novel-length notes (not really there were a lot) even though she said she'd read for pleasure and I just asked for an opinion. You know, did you like it?
Well, she did like it which is consistent with the feedback I've gotten from other readers. But in her notes Sara told me that what I had wasn't really a novel. It's actually a detailed outline for three novels. I hadn't put enough detail in and glossed over some potentially interesting character development things. I hadn't built a world effectively enough. I assumed the reader knew things that I hadn't explicitly put into the manuscript.
So while agents and editors considered the book, they didn't get the whole story. Despite the fact that there were over 100,000 words there, it wasn't a novel. It was an outline.
My god, I thought, she's right. Absolutely right.
But dammit, I believe in this story. I love these characters. I think this is a good book. Well, three good books now, right?
Add in that I visited a new writer's group in the beginning of September courtesy of my friend Holly where I got detailed and terribly useful critiques of a short story. That group gave me insights into my work similar to the things Sara had later on. It would be easy to give up on that story too. But rather than do that, I've realized I'm on the right track.
I'm trying to apply all this to all the things I've got in some state of 'done' and it's a bit overwhelming. Plus I've started a new job in the last month with increased responsibilities and new systems to learn...
Which I could use as further excuse to give up. I could use all of the criticisms to just let go, start over or quit completely.
That's what I'm saying here: don't give up. Even when you think you're done with something and it's not connecting with your audience, don't give up. If it's good you'll get there. I know I will. Even after three full years of working on this novel I'm not giving up. I'm trying to balance working on other things too but I'm not quitting this one.
I owe some folks a couple of things and I have to focus on those while I'm spending time rewriting. Look, if you believe in your work, don't quit. Make it better. Find a way.