I spent the best hour of the morning at Pamela's house the other day, listening carefully to her comments on my manuscript and gratefully accepting the printed copy made heavier with her handwritten notes. I drove home, stopping by the car repair shop long enough to lament that the car would need further repairs, and got a nice laugh that it had that in common with the manuscript.
The good news is, neither one needs to be scrapped.
|My old car|
A little more than a year ago, I pulled out an old manuscript, read it through, and started a fresh work featuring the same main character a few years down the road. The first manuscript had attended the query ball, been asked to dance several times, and was nearly proposed to, but in the end she went home without a partner and went to sleep under the bed. But the main character? Periodically during this long sleep Joan would ask about her, and ever-so-lightly suggest that maybe there was more to her story that deserved to be told. So I woke her up, told her new story, and Pamela read through it and shared her critique.
Home from Pamela's and the car repair fizzle, I warmed up some lunch, unclipped the pages, and set to work with eyes and fork. Some compliments and smiley faces, and a lot of questions and notes. Good ones, notes that made me nod my head with their sense and rightness, and roll my eyes at things I'd missed, commas and logic and info oh my! I was already familiar with these nods, I should mention, because many of them were identical to my the nods when I got Joan's and Susan's notes a week or so earlier.
Just to be clear: I'm not suggesting that writers should dig through their unpublished work to avoid finding something new. I am acknowledging that sometimes we might find something that didn't quite work, but maybe part of it did, and the new version might well be a version that can and should fly. It's a tough call, and there might be a lot of time spent to no greater good than further experience on the road to publication. But it might also be that what is familiar is right and taking another chance on it is time well spent.
|My new car--look familiar?|
That new car? I trust it too, just as I still trust the one that needs a little work it will get and then be trusted with my son. Proof? New manuscript, characters I could count on. New car, but not so different after all.