Well, I’ve hit another pothole in the write path. Gaaah!!!!! Or is it Yipppeeee?????
A little over a month ago an agent who represents some of the most successful authors of the 21st century asked me to send her the 1st 5 chapters of my manuscript. I practically fainted when I read the email. I held my breath, and last week, I got a reply from her assistant.
We loved the detail and specificity of your story; the prose was really warm and careful, with descriptions so vivid we could put a face to each of the characters, and summon up an image of the sun sitting so beautifully on the horizon. But I’m afraid we didn’t find the integration of historical detail and dramatic action smooth enough to draw us into the story. Because there was so much detail you needed to convey to the reader, it felt as if the characters often slipped into unrealistic or slightly forced modes of speech – and this finally made it hard to engage with them on an emotional or dramatic level.
Wow! What a gift! As disappointed as I was, I couldn’t have felt any more thankful for her constructive criticism. First, she said “the prose was really warm and careful”. Second, she gave me something really concrete to improve, and it’s not something I haven’t thought of before.
My wonderful writers’ group members have talked to me about this. It’s important to provide context to the young adult reader about the Mexican Revolution as it’s the backdrop for the entire story, but I have to do it in a way that doesn’t seem forced. I’ve taken their comments to heart and re-written segments of the story, but clearly, there’s more work to do!
I felt sorry for myself for about 2 days afterward. Putting your heart and soul into a book as I have, then waiting, waiting, waiting for someone to say it’s worthy of publication, only to be left hanging or get told “no” is hard…really hard.
But here I am today, re-writing sections of the manuscript. This book has potential, ready to be unleashed, but perhaps not yet.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it,” Stephen R Covey once said. How apropos is that?