Thursday, April 30, 2009

Persevere While Shifting Gears

At what point do you decide to shift gears and shelve the "baby" you've been working on for the past few months? Maybe you've sent queries out on the manuscript and no one seems interested after months of trying, or you've played the contest circuit until you consider becoming a charter member of Contests Anonymous and still no one has expressed an interest in what you've written.

This would be an easy question for me to answer if I was finished with this story, because I would already be starting on a new book. But, what if you are only half-way finished and the response to what you've written is undeniably lukewarm? Have you ever just shelved the book? If so, do you ever find yourself coming back to this manuscript at a later date? Do you still feel the same way about it or were you right to scrap it earlier? I believe in perseverance but I hate thinking I am beating my head against the wall.


Christine said...

I think it's a tough call. I shelved my first book after it was requested and then rejected. I know what is wrong with it and the writing mistakes are too massive to tackle--for now. But then I never really revised it in the true sense so there is a part of me that wants to return to it and reread it to see if there is a fresh way of approaching the story. Same with number 2.

Number 3 is in yet another revision. I've done well in contests with it, 3rd in Touch of Magic Spring 2008, but I need to tweak it and actually query it. I'm not sure if this is the one that will hit any nerves, but I've learned a lot by writing it and revising it.

Number 4 is in very early first draft and I want to run to it so fast now that I am struggling with 3==hehe--kind of like switching favorite children LOL.

I think after this one is revised, queried and pitched, I'm finished trying to peddle it. But I will continue to enter bits of it in contests for feedback. I believe it is important to move forward. Definitely FINISH YOUR STORY. Then let it sit, move on to another idea and then go back and revisit it. It'll be easier to see what is working for you and what is not.

My goal is to have at least two first drafts a year--new--and continue building my other books' strengths while trying to market them.

Karen Beeching said...

Great blog, Diane.

I think if you are driven to finish the book, do so, then put it down for a while and start another. Go back and read it after a few months.

I've written for 20 years, and in 15 of those years, I spent too much time on the same two books, revising, rewriting, and not getting anywhere. I simply refused to admit that these two books weren't my break-through books. Working full time, it was difficult for me to believe I had spent that much time away from my family working on two books that would never serve as anything but stepping stones to the next book.

Honestly though, I was getting tired of those characters and you could tell it in my voice. I was slowly killing my desire to write because I was beginning to resent those books.

I wouldn't take the contest feedback too seriously, but if the response you're getting on queries is lukewarm, either work on your query or set the book aside and hope after more turnover in the publishing houses and market, you will have another shot with that book.

I have the first book in a trilogy out there, and I'm waiting to get feedback. Should I get rejection across the board, I still intend to finish the 2nd and 3rd, only because I NEED to tell those stories before I move on. At that point, I would probably wait a year and try again.

M.V.Freeman said...

For me, I need to finish something..anything. I have dozens of unfinished stories. Some that I will go back to, others...well they may just sit--which is sad.

But, I am going to finish the story I am on...and Then I'll worry about shelving it. :)

JoAnn said...

Lots of good advice here. I think I'm on the side of "move on" as long as that doesn't become your permanent method of operation. And I say that because if you force yourself to finish writing the story, it's going to sound forced.

I have several manuscripts that I forced myself to finish. And it's painfully obvious to the reader!

But also remember that we all hit rough spots and sometimes it pays to persevere and work your way through them. You can always go back and revise the rough parts.

Maybe work on the ms a few more weeks. If the writing doesn't become easier, put it aside and go on to something else.

Keep in mind that this advice is worth exactly what you paid me for it. :-)

Carla Swafford said...

I have several partials and 9 completed books and hopefully number ten will be completed in the next month.

Sometimes you have to say something isn't working and stop. Maybe one to three years from now you'll come back to it and rewrite the beginning and finish it.

If not, it was meant to be unfinished. BUT, be sure you do finsh other books. If you have only partials, that's not productive.

Now that I'm finished talking in circles, I'll let you get back to writing. LOL!

Louisa Cornell said...

I think there are some books that you just have to be at the right place in your life to finish and / or write. You may start them and then realize that while the story is good you are not at the right place in your life to do it justice. In a case like that I think the smart thing to do is put it aside and let it "cook" on the back burner for a while. My very first book was like that. I know the story. I love it and I know I an finish it, but my second book just spoke to me more. It was the book I NEEDED to finish because it taught me so much. It ended up being my first GH book, but never sold. I know what is wrong with it and one day I'll go back and revise it too. The first book still isn't ready to write yet and I don't know when it will be. I moved on to complete my second book and have now started book number three. Will I go back to that very first book? Sure. Will I go back and revise my first GH book one day? Absolutely. But for now the book that is speaking to me is the one I will work on. So long as I keep finishing more books than I table I feel like everything I write has something to teach me and can only make my writing better. Does that make any sense at all? LOL