Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When to Quit

When it quit is a question I've been pondering for a while. Not that I'm thinking of quitting writing but revisions. When I first finished my draft of Evolution I thought it was nearly perfect. HA! Well, after a few rejections I ended up taking a serious look at my 'completed' draft and realized it still needed serious work.

The results of six months of revisions was an almost completely different novel. I changed setting, defined and removed characters, and altered the core conflict of the plot. I'm so happy I made those revisions. I definitely feel that the result was a stronger piece. Since I finished that new 'completed' draft, I've continued to make smaller revisions, adjusting minor issues and clarifying plot and characters. Each time I feel better about what I've written. About three months ago I decided to start querying again. I've had a bit of interest, with two partials and a full. Considering I've only sent out about 20 queries this round I think the two versions of my query are working alright. 

Last week, I had a beta reader who graciously read through the entire manuscript in one sitting. Overall, she had a lot of great things to say - the stuff I wanted to hear. In addition to the positives she pointed out the problems she noticed as reading - the stuff I needed to hear. Redundancies aren't a big issue. I can give it a read through again and remove some of them. But the main problem she pointed to was my pacing. And she's right. I know she is. Pacing was what I was trying to fix, and I did. Well, I did a bit, just not enough.

There was a moment a few weeks back that I thought I was done with major work. Now I know I still need to do more. Maybe I don't know when to quit. I just don't see the purpose of having a completed novel still on the shelf (or in my hard drive)that no one wants to publish because I'm too tired or lazy or stubborn to make the necessary revisions to make to sellable.

I have multiple projects on the go; Reconstruction of Janie, Liar, Witness, The Pass, and Today I die. I have other things I could focus on, but part of me won't let go of Evolution. It was the first book I finished. The first novel I ever put any of my effort and heart into. It'll sell one day. It may not be my first to make it into print, but it'll make it.

When to quit? Not now. Not until it's published.

On my iPod:

New Orleans is Sinking by The Tragically Hip


  1. I've quit so many novel projects in the early stages because in most cases I ran out of steam, put them away for a while, came back and realised they just weren't right. I have files full of promising starts that may forever gather dust! The fact you have finished the first draft is one stage further that I have gone. There was enough of a good story there for you to produce a first draft, so I think you have certainly got a publishable novel there. You have great characters and a unique story and personal style at the heart of your work. Revisions sound like a right pain in the bum, but since you have a strong manuscript to work with I think you will get there in the end!

  2. The wonderful advice of Dory in Finding Nemo certainly applies here: "Just keep swimming/writing, just keep swimming/writing...." You can do this. Your perseverance is also quite excellent. Just be sure to keep those words of what you did really well running through your head as you go back and work on this again.

  3. I'm like you with editing projects. I never stop until I make it the best it can be - even if I have to move on to something else and then come back. Keep at it, you'll get Evolution to where you want it.