I don’t think it’s any secret, I just finished a revision on a project. No one asked for it. No one said “Hey, Rena, you know what would make this better?” I decided to do this thing on my own. I poured myself out into a novel that was probably too broken to receive that level of revision. I probably should have left this book behind.
But I didn’t. Inexplicably, I chose to pour months of work into a novel I thought was broken. I chose to put in more work on the novel that had already received more full requests than any manuscript before. And so I did. I changed characters, I added scenes, I deleted whole chapters. This great bit didn’t work? GONE. This character too unlikeable? Change it. No chemistry? CUT!
I was ruthless. I did my absolute best by this novel in that revision. All I have to do now is proof the new chapters and send it on. It is the very best I can do with that novel at this time.
If I lived in an 80s movie, I’d have a contract, an agent, and someone hounding after the movie rights by the end of my 90 minutes, but alas, this isn’t a movie. In reality, it doesn’t really matter unless that one person falls in love. In short, my very best, may not be good enough.
Ah, the cruelties of reality. I have seen people get agents with books that they thought were cast offs and only sent out query letters because, why not? I’ve seen people toil for years and years, then not have anything to show for it when their book is considered not good enough, new enough, romancy enough. And these are my fears.
But whenever I get to the part where I’m staring down the possibility of retiring yet another project, I look back and ask myself what have I learned from this? Was this all a waste of time?
What I learned is that I have a stubborn streak that will serve me well. I’ve learned that I am capable of things I didn’t think I could do. I didn’t think I could push through. I wanted to quit, but I kept finding the place to do the work. I remembered how to write for me because the idea of leaving my character in a substandard novel when I knew a way to fix it, bugged me. So I fixed it.
I learned that my other projects will wait. They are beautiful shiny things, but I’m giving this one a shot.
So there it is, three months of editing a novel and it’s within 500 words of the length of the previous version, but I’ve cut and changed ~30,000 words. I really hope it’s good enough, but it’s already making the next book better.