I’ll admit something right upfront.
I love re-writing.
Writing a first draft is hardest for me.
Maybe it’s the complete and necessary immersion into the world of the characters (especially POV characters) that leaves me feeling stretched and sometimes drained after a writing session. I am not only emotionally engaged, I am physically present inside that imagined world. I’m extremely sensitive to interruptions during my first drafts; being ripped from that world feels like a physical pain. It’s hard to get back inside, once I’ve left. (Full disclosure – in case it’s not obvious: I am not a parent so I don’t have to juggle child care along with writing.)
Re-writing, especially with editorial help, is what I imagine joining a band must feel like. It’s when solo work becomes collaborative, and the process of creation – not to mention the story itself – can expand in ways previously unimagined. (All of my musician friends are laughing their heads off right now.) I’m not entirely inside my own head. I get to engage with someone else. For me, re-writing is where the real story starts to take shape, and I never get there alone.
I recently received a 2-page critique from the judge who championed my manuscript, THE LAND BETWEEN, for the 2017 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. Because of this judge’s efforts, my ‘book’ made the longlist. Their belief in my manuscript made me feel great but I was almost more excited to receive their feedback because it was so good. Think of the best feedback you ever received in a critique class or from a writing partner. Better than that. (Really.) These were the kind of comments that gave me a road map for a major revision. They gave me the inspiration to cut 73 pages of ‘darlings’ out of the manuscript, bringing the word count down from an unmarketable 98,000 to a very marketable 78,000. Although I hate to admit it, the manuscript is much better as a result. Crisper, cleaner, with a tighter focus.
Could I have achieved this on my own? No way. So it got me thinking: if 2 pages of manuscript critique helped me achieve so much, what might a 4-month writing mentorship do?
Well, I’m about to find out as I prepare to embark on just such a mentorship with my new manuscript, THE SHADOW SMUGGLERS.
I’ve just posted the revised first chapter of THE LAND BETWEEN under the ‘Writing’ heading and the drop-down menu, ‘The Land Between.’