“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” Madeleine L'Engle
I have been filled with envy whenever I look at Facebook or Twitter lately, at how well and boisterous all of my writer "friends" are doing. Great reviews! Lots of gigs! Selling out books!
And I am very happy for them, but it has been distracting me from my work in that my definition of "success" becomes less about the fact that I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing, and more about what others think and how everything appears on the outside.
I promised to blog about the vicissitudes of the writing life, so here goes. Yes, as I rewrite novel #2, I think I'm ready to talk about it's rejection last spring, even while I'm waiting for an answer on novel #3. (My agent LOVES it, and it was submitted three weeks ago to my editor at FSG.)
Editor Lady said that she didn't think novel #2 was a good "follow-up". Fortunately I was almost done with a first draft of #3 when I got the call, so although I cried in my coffee, I didn't stop writing.
Instead of sending it out to other publishing houses, I wanted to sit on it, to see if I agreed with her, and it turns out I do. I love the story, but I need to tell it differently. I've learned something about writing: stories and characters need marinating, need time to grow. I was in too much of a hurry to have another book out there so that I could make a living, otherwise how could I justify taking the time to write when I have three kids who want to eat and not go barefoot in the winter?
You can't hurry art. And you can't make everybody like it, either. I am intensely proud of Edges, even if it's not what would be called a "best-seller". (I would have made my Gran proud, by writing the book that wanted to be written.) In my very first review I was skewered by Kirkus, as "no L'Engle." Duh. But there it was - my worst fear realized, before anybody had even read the book.
Other writers told me that a bad review from Kirkus is a "badge of honor", but that didn't make it hurt any less. Still others told me not to read ANY reviews - that it's not my business how others read one's work, positive or negative. And there have been some LOVELY reviews. In fact, most of them have been AMAZING!
Silver lining? I am still writing and walking through my fears. This, more than anything, makes one a writer. The fact that I'm not going to quit because of a rejection or one bad review. It's making me stronger. I can hold and hug an actual book in my hands. Something I made.
And the rewrite of book #2 is going to be much better. I'm not giving up on the story, because it wants to be written. But I've thrown out at least two hundred pages. I had two POV's and now there's only one and it's in the first person present tense instead of third person past tense. You know. (I mention it every once in a while.)
So wish me luck, my brethren, as I wait on #3, a companion to Edges, and breathe new life into #2, tentatively titled In Your Face, where "reality" TV and reality don't exactly jive.
And I need to remember that I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing, being a writer, a mom, and a teacher.
Have a great weekend!