DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT
This writing caper sure is a rollercoaster ride. Dizzying ups, such as the buzz of creating a new story, getting some positive feedback, an acceptance, a good review, an invite to speak at a festival or a gorgeous letter from a fan; followed by screaming, white-knuckled downs, such as a story that just won’t behave, getting some negative feedback, a rejection, a bad review, not getting an invite to speak at a festival, or a letter pointing out a terrible typo or plot flaw.
It’s all part of the business and something that we have to deal with.
I had an email from my agent last week that was one of those “I have some good news … and some bad news” types.
The good news was that she really liked my picture book manuscript. (Yay! Happy dancing round the kitchen.) And we are now having a conversation about what our next steps should be.
The bad news was that she wasn’t so keen on my new middle grade novel. (Just to clarify: this is the novel that I have been writing this year, not the one I wrote last year – MISSING – which I have been blogging about and will be published in 2018 by Walker Books. To avoid confusion, I will call this “new” work CD.)
So the upshot of the email was that CD needs more development. There was plenty she liked about it, but she felt that it wasn’t there yet and that I should put it to one side for a bit, let it simmer away and develop slowly, while I get busy on some other projects.
Deep breathe …
Of course, I’m disappointed. I LOVE these characters. I ADORE their world. I BELIEVE in this story. And I want nothing more than for everyone else on the entire planet to love and adore and believe in CD as much as I do. Starting with my agent.
But to be honest, I get it. Deep down, I know that it’s not ready – that it needs something more. My biggest worry at the moment is that I just don’t know WHAT or HOW. For the first time in a long while, I have drawn a blank and really have no solid ideas on how to develop this work.
So what am I going to do? Well, I’m going to put it on the back burner for a bit – as suggested – and get on with my other projects. (Good advice actually.) Hopefully a bit of distance will give me some fresh perspective. And hopefully my subconscious will work hard in the background while I concentrate on my other projects and come up with a brilliant solution. (One lives in hope, always.) In a few months, I will probably seek out some beta readers. Maybe some child readers. I may even throw all the pages up in the air and see where they fall – i.e. come at the story with a totally different approach.
But one thing I won’t do is to put CD in my bottom drawer and let it gather dust. That wouldn’t be right. That’s not being true to myself or my work. I figure if I really believe in these characters and their story, I need to put my disappointments aside, and find a way to make CD shine.
In the meantime, I am going to put FIX YOU by Coldplay on repeat – thanks to an unrelated Facebook exchange with author and buddy Meg McKinlay – and I am going to take a long walk.
And maybe kick a few buckets.