An Unexpected Decision

So much for the regular blogging! I don’t have much of an excuse, other than life getting in the way. But even with that, I’ve been keeping up my writing and critiquing. And along the way, I’ve made a hard decision – one that felt almost like the end of my writing career. But let me start from the beginning….

I’m a huge fan of the blog, Miss Snark’s First Victim, and if you’re a regular reader of Ms. Authoress, you’ll know she puts on a Secret Agent contest once a month – you submit the first 250 words of your novel, and an agent gives feedback (along with the rest of the readers of the blog).

I’ve been working on my current WIP for longer than I’d care to admit, and based on some great critique partners, had recently changed the opening, starting the story a couple of hours earlier than I had previously. Full of pride and certain this was the best opening ever, I gleefully submitted, sure I’d be one of the agent’s top choices. The writing was good, the emotion was there, the opening line was a hooker. And for the most part, the other reviewers liked it, said they were hooked. They wanted to read more!

And then came the Secret Agent. Unfortunately, she was not hooked. And thought the whole thing a bit dull and cliched, and was very direct about her dislike. Knocked me for a loop, let me tell you. And, as hard as I tried, the agent’s words echoed around my head over and over.

If this is the reaction to something I’ve spent so much time on, how can I ever hoped to be published, to get an agent, to succeed in this business? I am slightly ashamed to admit I cried. Not just a few trickling tears, but sobbing hysterics that my work wasn’t good enough, that I sucked. And boy did I not want to suck.

I have a problem with perfectionism.

Unfortunately, I’d gotten so wrapped up in this story that it no longer was a story. It was part of me, and any criticism of the novel was a criticism of me personally. Oh I know, I’ve read all the warnings from agents and publishers, I’d steeled myself against it, but somehow, this little YA Fantasy had crept under those barriers. I had lost my objectivity.

It took three horrible days, and lots of support from my wonderful crit partners for me to come to terms with this agent’s opinion of my story. And looking back, I can honestly say, she was right. Her harshness and honest opinion, as much as it still stings, made me do the one thing I hadn’t been able to do. Move on. I still love my little YA book, and perhaps I’ll revisit it someday, but right now, my writing skills have improved so much, that I know I can’t do the story justice with just another edit. It needs to be ripped apart and re-written from scratch, and I just don’t have the heart for it right now. So, my first YA Fantasy will be carefully saved and put away for future use, while I work on my new WIP.

As hard as it was to let go, I think it’s the right decision. I feel better about my new WIP than I ever did about the previous book, it’s just fitting together in ways I never expected. And that makes me feel like it was the right choice. Now, I just need to keep moving on it!

How about you? Have you had any hard decisions lately?