When I finished editing my first book (now shelved) I hadn’t much of a clue how to go about getting it published. I finally decided to hire another writer in that genre to take a look at it and see what she thought. Just for fun, I pulled those notes out today and here’s what jumped out at me, “Maybe the story of the orphans is really a separate novel hiding in this one.”
Oh, how I laughed!
When I first contacted this author about critiquing my work, it was in hopes of having someone tell me if it was a novel I could get published or if I should move on from the years (!) I spent on it and try to get something else out there. The trouble is I already knew the answer to this question. Somewhere, deep inside of my being I knew that I could do better, that my writing had not become the caliber I would wish to sign my name to.
I just didn’t have the guts to call it a writing exercise and move on. Instead I kept revising, rewriting, reinventing. What I needed was to listen to myself. To hear myself say the vitality in the book was the obscure characters and their side stories. These were the gems in the mire of practice often necessary to gain knowledge of craft.
Now I’m learning (slowly) to trust myself when my inner voice tells me that a character doesn’t work or that a plot is too derivative. It’s taking time, but at least I’ve developed the courage to listen, to know I’m the one who knows what’s best for the book.