Reflections on the Ephemeral Nature of Doneness.

So, I’ve been neglecting this little blog rather a lot. August seventh. . .

*holds head in hands and mimics my Zaydie in a throaty oy-vey*

. . . when I was still riding that glorious #Pitchwars merry-go-round. For those of you on the edge of your seats, though it’s quite old news now, I did not get picked for #Pitchwars. It was tough and sad-making because I was certain I had a strong entry and great rapport with several of the mentors. In the end though, I didn’t quite catch that brass ring.

I’d be a big fat lying liar if I didn’t say I was incredibly bummed. Like eat a whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s while sobbing, bummed. But, after a few days of feeling absolutely wretched, I dusted myself off, hitched up my big girl pants and threw Silverblood up on #Pitmad.

For those of you in our studio audience who have no clue what #Pitmad is, it’s the inestimable Brenda Drake’s quarterly pitch party. I polished my twitter pitches. I tweeted twice an hour, and joy of joys I got some hits. Some full requests even. Shoot off the confetti cannons. Dance party on the living room. The whole nine.

And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited. . .

I entered another contest, #Pitchslam. Applied my nose to the grindstone, gave my first page a good long look and then rewrote it. It is, without a doubt, one of the best things I’ve ever written. But here’s the thing, when I held up my pretty-pretty first page next to the rest of the manuscript. The book I’ve been querying and getting requests for. Well, let’s just say it’s is a pretty stark contrast between shining awesome and suckitude. Major suckitude. The bones of the story are great. I’ve, no doubt, got some great characterization chops on me. My premise is made of rock solid awesomesauce. But. . .and this is a big but, the book isn’t done. Trouble is, like every guidance counselor I ever had told me, potential only gets you so far.

#Pitchslam went better than I could have possibly hoped for. Agents, and fellow writers alike in my amazing Twitter community agreed that both premise and first page were great. I got three requests. All good things. And then my full requests — those rare unicorn-like things newbie writers can only dream about— came back as passes. Amazing agents, each and every one of them, came back to me with a clear message.  Something that, to be honest,  I was already beginning to understand on my own. My premise? Great. My writing? Full of flashes of brilliance. But, in the end they didn’t connect. Somewhere between my fingers and their brains something wasn’t clicking. Noodle that image for a bit.  I’ll wait.

After some serious soul searching, I came to this truth. My novel isn’t done cooking yet. And I can query til the cows come home with the current draft and end up exactly nowhere. It’s a sobering feeling I’ll tell you.

Thing is, as a fresh-off-the-truck novelist, I had no real way of knowing what a finished manuscript looks like.  I did a lot of work on the book in June, and thinking it was done I shot it out into the ether. Really, and I can be honest about it now, I was holding myself to this artificial personal deadline that I’d be query ready by the Summer Solstice. Silly, silly, Jessica.

Then I did major work on the book pre #Pitchwars. Once again, with the certainty I was absolutely, totally done. Bust out the brass band and get cracking on the sequel. Opening the manuscript last weekend I came to a horrible/wonderful realization, Silverblood, my imperfect little snowflake of a book-baby, is slow in places. The character motivation is all over the place. I have a bad habit of leaning on to-be verbs. The premise is still gorgeous. The characters lively and loveable. But the plot. . .oh the faltering plot. *deep sigh*

So, with that in mind, the sleeves are being rolled up. I’m doing the hard work. Smashing those darlings in the face. Moving. Cutting. Pasting. Writing whole new chapters. I just inserted a car chase. A FREAKING CAR CHASE. I FLIPPED AN SUV WITH MY BRAIN, GUYS! Pardon the capslock excitement. It’s going well, and I think that Izzy and Leah and their poor troubled Dad will be better off for the work I’m doing. I’ve got some awesome beta readers lined up for when I bang out the last of the edits with the hope on the other side of the revisions I will actually have a finished novel. One I can query with zero qualms.

I’m putting in the time to make the book done-done. This time for sure.


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