2017 was a brutal, wonderful year for me as a writer. I spent most of it furiously revising THE BIRD AND THE BLADE with my fantastic editor, and between revisions, I spent every free moment I could scrape out for myself working on a new YA fantasy. And I did that while working full time and trying my best to spend quality time with my family. That meant that the middle grade novel I had been working on prior to selling THE BIRD AND THE BLADE in the fall of 2016, had to spend the past seventeen months languishing.
As I pushed through drafting the aforementioned YA fantasy, I found myself daydreaming more and more about how good that little middle grade was and wouldn't it be wonderful to work on it again? Well, I finished the new YA a couple of weeks ago, and here I am, free at last to return to my middle grade gem.
It started off well. I read that first page, and thought, "Yes! This book is so good!" I even tweeted about it:
But then, as I kept reading, I had to face the fact that this book--a love song to my two sons--is really just a giant, incohesive mess full of family jokes. For the past year, I thought all this book needed was a little polishing and then I could hand it over to my agent. Now, having read through it, I recognize that it's going to require a major overhaul. Disappointing!!
And yet, as of this morning, I'm starting to see how it could work, and that's encouraging. But even better is this realization: The reason I was able to recognize the manuscript's faults is because I'm a better writer now than I was seventeen months ago. I've been through a major editorial process with people who know what they're doing, and I've learned from that, and I can now apply what I've learned to a new project. How great is that?
Every word is worth it. Every time you toss something out because it's not working is worth it. Every time you play with your manuscript is worth it. Every time you fail is worth it. Even when it feels like you're making no progress, every moment you spend writing in any way, shape, or form makes you a better writer, and that is, unequivocally, worth it.
So, I'm glad I had to sit on this book for a long, long time. I'm glad I can come back to it with a better vision, even though it's going to take some elbow grease to make the book readable. Hey, at least my cat loves this manuscript ... because I can't get her off it. Gah!