I started writing Iron Thirst back on 12/31/08. It took me about four months to get the skeleton of the story on paper. Most scenes were complete, but other parts still bare bones. The remainder of the time has been spent revising and rewriting. I’ve gone through two different prologues, stripped scenes that don’t either add to the plot or characterization (no matter how fun they were *wah*), added new characters, added a few chapters in a different character’s POV – for a total of seven full drafts (each draft went through at least three sets of revisions). (Dirty math – I reworked the story about 21 times.)
Writers are instilled with enough self-doubt to prevent them from ever believing their story is good enough. Pick up a great book and after reading it, you feel like a hack. Walk into a Borders, see the shelves lined with hundreds of thousands of books – and check your confidence level. We second guess ourselves like politicians should.
I don’t think I will ever believe my story is 100% perfect. How could it be? Every day I learn something that could make it stronger. Another way to say what has already been said – but better.
I have finally learned to accept this. My manuscript is a living, breathing document. I have the right to tinker with it and continue to make it better. But what is happening is my attempt towards perfection is preventing me from moving forward. There is a back log of new stories waiting their turn for me to give them life. There comes a point where enough is enough.
Let’s say I was to get Iron Thirst where I believe that it is perfection. A point where every word is concrete. A point where I believe it could not be enhanced, should not be changed, and will never be better. (Hold on, bwahahaha, ok, let me continue.) How do you think I would respond to an agent, editor, or publisher handing me a red painted manuscript and telling me to get to work. Hmmmm,, hissy fit, maybe?
No, I know that I cannot marry these words. I know that if it was to be printed as is – my story, my voice would be something I was proud of, something I could live with. But I know that professionals will need to touch it in order to turn my art into their product. And I’m ok with that. Hell, look forward to it.
David Fulmer, an author who I have studied under, has said (paraphrasing) that when he is doing readings from books of his that have been published (some even receiving awards), he is still tempted to take a red pen to it. That stuck with me.
So, I have decided that I am going to finish my line edits, I am going to write the (not curse word strong enough) synopsis, and I am going to query Iron Thirst.
I will say this – to anyone who is sitting on the fence on whether or not it is time – this was not a decision that I made lightly. I had to do some soul searching and ask myself some tough questions.
- Am I confident that the story (not the words) is strong and ready for the world?
- Is the manuscript free of errors, typos, and plot holes?
- If an editor did not make a single change, am I at a point where I take pride in my words?
- Am I ready for a whole bunch of no’s and a possible yes?
This decision is personal, but I hope sharing how I got here can be of some service to you.
So, are you querying? How did you know it was time? Are you still deciding if it is time? What is holding you back?