This past weekend I attended a local writer’s group meeting.
To be honest, with everything that is going on in my life, I didn’t know who was actually speaking at the meeting or his topic of choice.
If I had, and if I had known how profoundly this man would inspire me I wouldn’t have taken my youngest daughter and been more prepared to take the notes I wish I had taken.
Unfortunately, my mind can’t hold much in the memory department these days. Why, I don’t know, it’s not like I have a job anymore. Well except for cleaning, cooking, laundry, and taking care of my daughters, among finding any time I can to squeeze in an article or two or edit my manuscript for ten to fifteen minutes if I’m lucky. Whoever believes stay-at-home moms have all the time in the world to do whatever they want when they want is an idiot.
With all that said, though, there was one thing that the speaker said that I can remember, and will hold on to for the rest of my writing career:
Write for you. Don’t write for anyone else. Don’t write for editors. Don’t write for publishers. Don’t write for readers. Write for you.
This struck me, and it wasn’t until today that I fully knew why it struck me. Last July I submitted my manuscript to a small publishing house. It was rejected for numerous reasons and the editor said in her email to me that if these reasons were fixed I could resubmit. With this glimmer of hope, I started another set of revisions.
For the most part, they have been good changes. I cut a whole chapter that I had known deep down needed to go, but until then didn’t have the courage to actually hit the delete button. I realized my sincere overuse of dialogue. Holy cow, do I make my characters talk a lot! It actually started to annoy me when I was reading it.
The only problem I started to have, and it was a problem I didn’t realize until the writer’s meeting, was that I lost who I was writing this book for. Each time I opened my manuscript and began editing the only person I thought of was this editor. Would the changes be enough for her? Would she like these changes? Am I taking out enough dialogue for her standards? Would she like this version enough to accept it? Her. Her. Her.
What the heck am I doing to not only myself but to my manuscript?
While I believe her advice is genuine, while I believe she was correct in saying I have too much dialogue and my manuscript is hovering over two genres without a home, while I believe I did need another set of revisions, including a new ending, and while I appreciate her entire email, I lost sight of the whole meaning and whole reason I even began this insane journey. I wanted to write a novel for me.
My novel is just that: my novel. The characters are mine. The plot is mine. The story is mine. And while I am revising and editing, yet again in what I hope is the last set of revisions, the only person I’m going to ask is this good enough for is me.