Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Long, Hard Road

So, I recently read a blog post about writers becoming too attached to their manuscripts. There was a particular interview by a publisher on this blog post about the length it should take to craft a novel from planning to end line edits. The publisher went on to say whenever he gets an unsolicited query by a writer, often a new writer, and he happens to see a line that they have been working on the novel for 6+ years, it sends up a red flag. This means, he said, that the writer had become too attached to their manuscript and cannot bear for it to leave their side.

I know I have become one of these writers. My novel has been in planning, to the day, for a total of six years, but I have only been writing the actual manuscript for coming on 4 years. This 4 year length includes three full, hard edits -- including one massive overhaul to the entire structure of the world I created -- along with some character additions.

Does this mean that I would send up a red flag to this same publisher if I, a new unpublished writer, would send my unsolicited manuscript to him? Granted, I would never tell them the length I have been working on the manuscript, but they I hope they might be able to see the polish in it to make an assumption. They could think, "Hey this guy wrote a slam dunk of a novel."

So where is all of this leading? I believe that a writer can become attached to their manuscript, but why at any point should this be considered a weakness of the writer? Haven't I invested my time accordingly to build a world and story that is absolutely pertinent to what I am trying to sell to an agent or publisher?

There will be lines drawn on this matter and I suppose it is a place where most writers find themselves at some point in the writing process. As for me, I do not see this as a hindrance, attachment or even a weakness. I see this as just a deeper part of the discipline. When I find myself doing a hard edit, I ask myself if I truly need to go through all 400+ pages again and catch small things. Most often, they are not small things, but parts that I just see being stronger or more relevant. Even Fantasy has the ability to latch onto reality and draw out real-life lessons that can have people change the way they think or act.

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"Little by Little, One Goes Far." -- J.R.R Tolkien.

I believe this as a philosophy, from a man who saw war and setback, and conquered all to bring us the greatest fantasy series that has ever been published. Leave your little comment and I'll get back to you.