Have you ever had a feeling something was wrong with a passage, a scene, a chapter you are writing, but could not put your finger on it? Have you rationalized or ignored that uncomfortable feeling and plunged on? But when you read it aloud to your critique group, they gave you a sympathetic, yet firm glare? And then it happens, what you were dreading.
I’m not talking about the various critiques where suggestions are made and you can accept or reject the advice. I’m talking about the times when you just know they are absolutely, positively correct on every point. The scene must be revised, or deleted and you must weave the one important point into another scene. It is work. It means lots of time and thought, trial and error, but somewhere inside you there is excitement. Just as you knew something was wrong, now you know something is going to be right. You know when you are finished, the scene will be spellbinding.
That happened to me this week, only this time it wasn’t my critique group’s feedback. An agent’s assistant sent me a fabulous rejection, taking the time to kindly outline in detail what needed to be revised. And I knew. I knew she was right on every single point. Instead of feeling rejected, the letter instilled excitement. Some of the points will be an easy—though time consuming--fix. Some issues I wasn’t sure how to address and wanted input.
I sent out a call to authors, Carolyn J. Rose and Mike Nettleton (the husband and wife team who taught the “Novel Writing Boot Camp” I attended (twice). Carolyn and Mike dropped everything and agreed to meet me for a drink. Crit friends The First Carol and Sharon Axeline also came running. (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the word "margarita.")
“Absolutely. You can do this. It is going to take some work, but you can do it.” Carolyn and Mike affirmed. The five of us tossed around ideas while we sat in the dry heat on the patio of a Mexican restaurant and sipped margaritas. Mike and Carolyn threw out one idea that caught my imagination. I sent them that vacant, far-away smile, when your fictional mind is off and running and Mike said, "I can see you've got something."
I’m starting the next phase of writing. I’m following the advice of the agent’s assistant. Thanks to her I know what needs to be done. I know how to do it. Now I just need to develop the back-story in my own head and weave it into the book. It is like sewing white, puffy clouds together in an azure summer sky, forming interesting shapes as they float slowly across the vast expanse. It will take some time, but I can do it. I will do it. And it will be spellbinding.
I’m so excited.