Kill the Buddha

One of the major things you learn (or had better learn) is that your manuscript is not sacred. It’s not some musty artifact or a weathered tome guarded in a bank vault. It’s alive, in point of fact, and there are other people out there who will have a say in how it turns out.

I can already hear you screaming: “No! It’s mine!” and I’m not going to argue with you. It is yours, but if you want it to be published, if you want it to be better? You’d better come to terms with the fact that other people are going to be touching your precious.

A good author knows the value of picking battles. To get published, your book will go through the hands of a lot of other people. People who have ideas, tweaks, adjustments, and fixes to your novel. You’ll have to learn to graciously say: “Absolutely.” And you’ll have to learn to take a stand and explain why you can’t change something on page 4 because it impacts the big reveal at page 440.

I’m currently in the midst of a major revision of my latest project. Not because I actually have to, but because after getting a (rare) detailed rejection letter I realized that the revision would make the book that much better. It would make my heroine kick-ass a little more. It would make the world even more alive. It would make the action explode.

It required I pull a plot thread. One that unraveled pretty much ALL of my work until I was left with the story I wanted to tell and some remnants I’m hoping to work back in.

And it’s slow going. When I first wrote this manuscript – that’s all I had to concentrate on. Now I have a new day job, a new house, and a lifestyle that’s more social and engaging than when I was just writing. *laughs* Be careful what you wish for. *winks*

I’m good though. I’m working out about 1,000 words a day on the weekdays and shooting for twice that on the weekends. I’m about a third of the way through and keeping an eye on the changes that need to be made so I don’t get lost in the retelling. I’m loving my heroine. She’s stronger, a little more violent maybe *grins* but she was a gunrunner after all so it’s to be expected, most of all she’s stepping up to the plate like I knew she could.

A writer might be the soul of her book, but agents and editors (and all the other people who make it work) are the blood and breath. They make your book come alive because it’s what they do for a living. It’s okay to rant – privately – when you first get those suggestions. But then you need to go workout, hit the punching bag, vent to a friend. Then, sit down and consider what they’re suggesting. Look at it with a critical eye, acknowledge your own faults and the faults of the story (Because you know they’re there, every story has them.) and get to work on making your writing better.

A friend of mine on FB, posted this quote the other day: ‎”If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” I’m still looking for the originator of the quote, but I thought I’d share it anyway because it applies as much to writing as anything else in my life. This current manuscript is important to me, so I’m going to find a way to make it better.

K.B. Wagers

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13 responses to “Kill the Buddha

  1. Brava! Brilliantly said and 100% true. And yes…you will find a way. In fact, I think you’ve already found it. 😉

    Lisa

  2. Early in the game I was told if I ever received anything more than a form rejection—something detailed like you received—to consider it high praise. Sounds like you’re getting close.

  3. Great post KB. I agree with Raymond that you’re probably close. Ego/attachment to one’s own work can be poisonous in the world of publishing. It is ultimately important to let professionals “touch” our work to make it better.

    eden

  4. Great post! I am so grateful for every bit of feedback I’ve gotten about my novel. Whether I agreed with it or not, it still helped me and my novel grow and be better.

    Good luck, K.B. You’re so close, if you breathe too hard you’ll cross that line.

  5. We have a saying in Screenwriting: “Great Screenplays aren’t written, they are rewritten.” Just remember, Story is everything and if something makes the story better, use it as long as it doesn’t weaken the integrity of your story. Sounds like you are reaching new heights enjoy the rare air! Great post.

  6. Learning that I wasn’t always the best person to read my manuscript was the best thing I ever learned. Others – editors, agents, great CPs – come to your mss. with fresh eyes, they read it like a reader does, rather than as the writer. The trouble with being the writer is that you know WAY more than is in the mss. and you don’t realize what’s missing – or just as importantly, what’s there that doesn’t need to be.

    I’ll share a piece of advice that took me 15 years to learn – when you get notes – from your CPs, from an editor or agent, and your back goes up – put them away for a week or two. Then go back and read them again. I’m almost willing to bet you’ll go, oh, I get it now.

    Kate

    • Great advice. Once your hackles have returned to normal, you have a tendency to digest criticism with a far better understanding. Criticism, like revenge, is a dish far better consumed cold.

  7. I’m working on editing a book I wrote several years ago, got rejections on, didn’t think there was a market for it and then just sent it out again and was told to make a couple of changes. They are small changes, but I’m going back through the whole manuscript because now that I’ve stood away from it for a while, I want to make it the best story ever.
    You will discover when the editing process is finished, your work will sing!
    Keep at it.

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