Taking a long, intense look at my manuscript for Throwing Rocks at God, and have learned something that perhaps I blinded myself to in previous readings. Recently took the revamped first chapter to my writing group in spite of a vague sense of “something” not being right. This sense was validated in subsequent revisions of the same chapter.
A bit of background: at the recent PIKES PEAK WRITERS conference at the end of April, I met with a literary agent rumored to be a bit surlier than most. It was also rumored that he “only” took on clients for whom he believed he could sell their work for six figures. He declined my first offering – my urban fantasy titled Plummet, stating that the market was “dead” and that there was no more room for new authors. I didn’t buy his theory, but didn’t argue. What do I know? If I could foresee the market, I wouldn’t be pitching to him! Then I pitched Throwing Rocks at God, and didn’t even get to the end of the pitch when he interjected, “Now THAT I can sell. Send it to me.”
In a flurry of excitement, I dragged out the eight-year-old manuscript and revisited it. I’m still deeply enamored by the story, and by the elements that’ve been added over the past several months as the creative urge hits and I drag it into the light of day once more. But that “something” continues to nag at me.
This was a novel begun back near the beginning of my writing career. It was a true labor of love, as the story is unique and has wide appeal. But ‘back in the day’ I didn’t feel that my craft was up to writing such an epic novel. And so it was tucked away, out of sight, but not forgotten. Over the past year or so, the story has crept into my consciousness at odd times, reminding me that I really want to dig back in. But that “something” kept me from progressing much.
In revising these past days since the conference, trying to incorporate the suggestions offered by my writing group, I may have stumbled onto that little “something” that has been tormenting me for nigh these past eight years.
Remember when you first started your writing career and you continually heard other and allegedly more knowledgeable writers demand that all stories begin in medias res? So believing that such was the way of the writing world, I did exactly that with this story. I began with a horrific hanging scene that introduced certain supernatural elements that were also woven throughout the novel. This morning I awoke with the thought: that isn’t where your story begins.
It’s not hard to recognize truth when it awakens you from a sound sleep.
So this morning I took a fresh look at the existing manuscript. I believe that parts that work do so for a very specific reason: good writing. However, I now believe that this story must become a much different version, and so I mentally began deconstructing it in my eagerness to approach it from this newfound and strategic angle.
Will I make the implied deadline given by the literary agent who wanted to see it? Probably not. I do believe that this is a sacrifice that must be made in order to make this the best novel it can possibly be. And if one agent believes it’s a “six figure sale,” based solely on my telling of the story and not on the writing itself, then it’s the idea that is a potential six-figure idea. My responsibility is to make sure that the writing upholds that idea. And as I’ve always believed, if everything is in place, the universe will provide a unique opportunity to succeed.