On my last post I compared crafting my novel to creating a king-size quilt. Here are things to do if that novel’s rough draft turns out not to be all it could be.
1. Obviously the first thing we all think of is just tossing it. Maybe even shredding it, getting it totally out of your mind before you start something new.
2. Have a writing group weigh in on what is the best path to follow. Of course there are pitfalls with this as you must have total trust that your group members’ opinions are the result of experience and knowledge. (Luckily for me, mine have these qualities in abundance.)
3. Have a professional editor give it a read-through. This will cost some money but might save you a lot of time in the long run.
4. Start a new project and let this one sit while you learn and write new things.
5. Put it in a file that some day down the road (after you’re dead) your reading public will rhapsodize over as a long-lost manuscript. Those readers who have become great followers of all your subsequent body of work will drool and suddenly that less-than-perfect ms will be wanted. Floating around as a bit of omniscient matter in the universe, though, you might just hear some readers say, “Certainly not her best work. She should have dumped it!”
6. Go back at the thing and decide how best to rewrite it. If you need to start from scratch, do it. If you need to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the piece before rewriting, do it. If you need help, ask for it.
7. Whatever path you decide to follow, remember you are the driver here. You are in charge. Deciding what is best for you will help in working out the project’s final form. Have the courage to make the decisions, do the work, and let the critics’ comments fall where they may.
As a high school teacher who often dealt with students and their challenges, I must remind myself now what I used to tell them. In high school I, a good student, actually failed Geometry in Grade 11. (They were always shocked!) Though I was devastated I learned that I was totally able to pick up the pieces from that failure, take the course again, pass it, and get on with my life. My failure was one of my best life teachers.
Have you ever had similar experiences in your writing? Your life? Consider leaving a comment about life’s lessons learned, or anything else that this post elicits.