Monday, July 13, 2009

Guest Blogger: Stephanie Morrill

Is it Good Enough Yet?

As a beginning writer, when you show professionals (agents, editors, etc.) your manuscripts, for a long time all you hear is, “It’s not good enough yet.” They sometimes say it nicer than that, but that’s the gist. When you get your first yes, it’s stunning. I remember clearly when my now-agent called me and gushed about Me, Just Different, I turned to my husband with a wide open mouth. I didn’t even know how to respond. I’d gotten a lot of practice responding to, “It’s not good enough yet,” but had zero practice with someone loving it.

Christine Marciniak blogged a couple weeks ago about revising the story, not the dream, and I couldn’t agree more. I fussed with Me, Just Different for nearly four years before it got the attention of my agent. I kept getting responses that Skylar, my main character, wasn’t likeable. Privately, I’d rant, “If you’d just give her a little time, she becomes likeable!” But when I received the same feedback from a contest and a couple agents, I knew I needed to dig in and do some more work.

The only change I could think of was a brand new storyline that would open the book, and then weave throughout the entire thing. Not. Fun. But the hard work paid off. My agent, who hated Skylar during her first read, now loves her. We sold the manuscript within a couple of months. In some ways it happened really fast, but a lot of work went into receiving those yeses.

Writing, for me, has been about trial and error. While Me, Just Different took four confusing, rejection-filled years, the next two books in the series were written within months, and my editor liked them even better than the first. So if you’re trying your hand at this writing thing, don’t worry if there’s been a few years of rejection. Learn how to graciously accept criticism (even really stupid criticism, and there will be plenty of that), and apply what you learn to your manuscript. Then practice saying, “Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed it,” because if you keep revising and growing as a writer, eventually someone will call and say they love it.

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