I just finished the final scene of my novel Murder on the Side. It is now time for the editing portion of our program. Actually, this will be the second time around for this one. I wrote it several years ago and did a complete edit. Recently, with the advice of a well-known author, I made some plot changes. I needed to up the stakes for for my protagonist. I did that. And don’t ya know that changed a huge chunk of the book.
But it’s better. I know it’s better because I’m much more excited about it than I was a few years ago. Yes, I could have simply written a new book, but the act of making major changes to a previous work was somewhat therapeutic for me. You see, after I wrote MOTS the first time, I wrote one more novel, making it four total, then kind of stood on the sidelines. I starting doubting myself. I told myself that I was just too busy for this writing thing, that the work involved didn’t justify the payback.
Any of this ring a bell?
Over at Writer Interrupted we have a motto: No Writer Left Behind. Super G and the rest of us have been down this road. We’ve come to the understanding that there are no unsuccessful writers, but there are plenty of writers who gave up.
My revision of MOTS was a way to bridge the old, excited to be writing Ron, with the new, still excited but taking it more seriously Ron. How am I taking it seriously? Well, it’s a change in attitude. Old Ron wrote and hoped it was good enough to get published. New Ron writes and expects to work hard and do whatever it takes to be published. And when</> New Ron is published, he’ll work just as hard on the next book, and the next, understanding that they are all hard and even John Grisham struggles with his latest novel just as much as he did with the first.
New Ron will also do what experienced novelists do when he finishes a first draft, he will immediately begin on the next novel. Because novelists don’t get paid to edit, re-edit, and wait for a response to their submissions. We get paid to put great stories to paper. So if we’re not doing that, we’re not working. And if we’re not working, we shouldn’t expect a paycheck.
So New Ron began his next published novel on Friday. It’s just random thoughts and a fun opener at this point. Soon I’ll have to lay down a plot and outline. Then I hope to bury Super G in chapters for critique. No time for dancing, partner. There’s work to be done!
So how about you? Have you crossed a similar threshold from hope-to-be-published to will-bust-my-tail-until-it’s-right? It’s a subtle shift, but I imagine it’s a shift we all encounter.