When I finished my first manuscript I was awfully proud of what I had accomplished. It was sort of like when my first child was born and I took an over abundance of pictures and sent them to everyone I knew so they could see her and how absolutely perfect she was. So too, I wanted everyone to read and enjoy the story I had created.
I sent the manuscript out anticipating that some lucky agent or editor would be pleased to represent such a treasure. But instead, I got: Josie is too weak and depressed—unsympathetic—while John is too brutish. It’s unrealistic to think that she would stay with him. In addition, Brian was not attractive enough, the story started out too slow, was written in present tense, my writing style was too casual while the story line too serious for the irony I had tried to incorporate. And there was more . . .
This story was about a woman who was trying to find her place in a life she found herself living but had not necessarily chosen. How many of us have woken up one day and thought, how did I get here? This isn’t how I had envisioned my life would be. So, I began the story at the start of her journey. I don’t believe it was unrealistic to think she would stay with a lousy husband since she was just figuring this out for herself. Why do editors always have to see a manuscript for what it is not instead of for what it is?
Even so, I tightened up the plot, sobered up my style, made Josie stronger, John not so mean, Brian a hunk and changed it to past-tense (no small task I might add).
A few weeks ago an editor found herself reading my blog and enjoying my posts. She asked to see my manuscripts. Not to sound over dramatic but I was so excited, I literally thought I would pop! Well, that was until I received her reply. She said that my blog voice was pleasing while my fiction voice . . . not so much. In addition, my characters where not realistic but too much like characters from a movie and it was as if my writing was trying to be something it was not.
In other words, all the things she said were wrong with my writing were all the things everyone else had said would make the story right. And to make matters worse, I really couldn’t completely disagree with her assessment.
Excuse my “french” but, Holly frickin’ crap!
In short, I can’t get published by following all the “rules,” writing the way the powers that be say I need to, and I can’t get published because I followed the “rules” since somewhere in the process I may have lost my voice.
So, I have two choices: keep writing the way I have been. Or, go back to the beginning and write the way I want to – the way I do in my blogs. (A third option would be to accept the possibility that I’m simply not a fiction writer and stop torturing myself, but I’m not quite there yet.)
Which way do I go? I have not yet decided but what ever I choose, I’m afraid the journey to publication is going to be up hill both ways.
A side note: You can help me decide. Look over at the “Pages” and click on The Final Rose to read an excerpt from my latest work. Let me know what you think. Is there a distinctive voice? Is it appealing? Do you like the story? Don’t be afraid to be brutally honest, the editors never are.