I’m deep into revisions on my novel, Out of Tune, which I submitted to my publisher a few weeks ago. I waited and waited for an answer and received a lovely editorial letter thick with the message, “Your book is great! But you need to change all this stuff before it’s ready for publication.” And it’s some big stuff. Ouch, because I thought all the big revisions I did before sending it in were enough. Wrong. So, that’s what I’ve been busy doing lately because #1, I want a publishing contract for this book so bad, and #2, I want to get this book out of my way so I can continue working on my new novel, the forgetting book.
As some of you may know, I tried to query Out of Tune awhile ago. I wrote the thing in nine weeks back in January and February, and can you believe I thought it was a great novel at that point? These were my thoughts:
This book is so good! I ADORED writing it, so it MUST be great. It won’t need that much work at all. Remember Pieces? I wrote that one fast too and it all went so smoothly, even with revisions. This one will be the same! I’m growing so much as an author. I SO ROCK! I’m going to query this and get an agent and go super-big super-fast and my life will be all sorts of happy-unicorns-and-cupcakes-sugar-induced awesomeness.
Yeah, kind of forgot that Pieces is a sequel/companion to an existing book. Characters already solidified. Backstory already completed. World already created. Out of Tune is a whole new story, a whole new world, a whole new set of problems.
I was so blind.
I was stupid and queried it way, way, way, way too early. I had beta readers for it before that, and I did some big revisions, but nothing painfully extensive. Obviously, I didn’t get an agent. I think I screwed up some good opportunities I probably won’t ever get back, so yay for me. You know what I was thinking? Really? I thought:
The more I write, the faster I should get, the less work I’ll have to do on each novel.
To an extent, that might be true, but I was blinded by that thought. I let it give me an excuse to be lazy and arrogant. So, I realized if I want a book out in any decent amount of time, I’d better submit Out of Tune to the publisher of my other books instead of chasing after different publishing opportunities for the next year or longer. And I love my publisher, so it’s not like this is a bad thing, far from it. But now that I’m slogging my way through some heavy revisions, embarrassed out of my mind that I queried this book in such a horrible state, I’m learning my lesson that every first draft I finish is going to suck. This is what I said to a friend last night:
It’s just … you know, after doing revisions like this (and it’s not like I don’t go through this with EVERY book), I go to work on a new book, and I’m terrified. I keep thinking, I’m going to do everything wrong and there’s no way to stop it. The only thing to do is just write it and then fix it later, no matter how long it takes or how hard it is.
I’m blind. In every first draft I write, it seems like I’m totally 100% blind, traveling through an unknown world, charting things I have no knowledge of, and most of it will need major reworking.
I’ll admit, I feel completely foolish putting up this post, because most of this seems like it should be obvious to any author. I just thought that since I’m writing my tenth novel, I would have figured it all out by now. Apparently not. So learn from my mistakes, I suppose, and accept your blindness and keep writing anyway. Unless you’re so brilliant that you churn out perfect first drafts. In that case, can we switch brains?