Monday, August 27, 2012

Which way should we go?

It doesn't matter how close to the finish line I am as long as I'm moving forward. Lately it seems that with everything I try I'm spinning my wheels.I hate that I'm not progressing but I just don't know which path to walk down with this MS. 


There's no doubt about it, writers make some difficult decisions.  In my mind one of the most difficult is whether or not it's time to query.  I think one of the reasons it's so hard is that it's not just one choice.  There are a myriad of options.  Is it the plot that's holding you back?  Are there scenes that are very beautiful but don't progress the plot so you need to tear them, and your heart, out? Should you emphasize this subplot or that one? Each word must be tested, weighed to see if it is the best word for the job. Each plot line questioned each character delved into.

It can be very overwhelming and lead to a sense of paralysis. Often this is the time when you need to get feedback. A new pair of eyes can see things you can't, give you a push in the right directions.  But maybe you've already done this.  Maybe your confusion is because you're having a hard time being done with something that has consumed so much of your life.  Maybe your just terrified of the next step and so you keep trying to go down the familiar paths you've already traversed. Sometimes I think we just need to pick a path and walk down it awhile.  If it's not right you can always try another.  At least you're moving instead of stagnating.

 How do you deal with not knowing what to do next? 





29 comments:

  1. Sarah,
    Good question! I have not clue. I'm still swimming in tons of drafted scenes with lists of needed scenes coming out of my ears. I know a lot of those scenes will have to be cut or have radical surgery and that scares me enough without thinking about queries. Yikes!

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    1. Well there's lots of choices there too. But with drafting you do get to explore most of them and worry about which ones work later.

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  2. I don't have an answer, but I know that it's not easy figuring out what to do.

    I've been "downsizing" my MS. It's hard to know when it's ready unless you give it to some of your trusted critique partners to read.

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    1. Yikes on the downsizing. That's hard. Good luck with it and I'm glad you have great critique partners. They can make everything better.

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  3. "Sometimes I think we just need to pick a path and walk down it awhile."

    Very interesting post, Sara. Your statement above is exactly what I have decided to do for the moment. I have a couple of manuscripts out to a few agents, and I have decided to simply wait it out (and of course get started on something new in the meantime). But I know that now is not the time to continue querying. I need to be patient enough to wait and see what these agents have to say.

    Now, in your case, per your comment on my blog, I think you should send out more queries. If you've only sent out a handful, you've probably not sent out enough. Send out more queries and begin a new project--that's my two cents, for what it's worth. :)

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    1. Your two cents are worth a lot! Thanks, I know I need to feel the waters more but one of the things I'm concerned with is that I'm querying the wrong agents since I had an agent tell me it belonged in another genre. Sigh. Good luck with the waiting. That's no fun either.

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  4. Really identified with this post, Sarah. So maybe it's some small consolation to know that you're not alone?

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    1. It is, thanks Suze. Good luck with your dilemmas.

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  5. I knew I was done with my previous MS when I didn't know if the changes I was making were making my story better or worse. And then...after some super hard soul searching...I also knew that MS wasn't *the one* and shelved it. Sometimes moving on means letting go too.

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    1. Yikes, that is the hardest decision of all!

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  6. I agree that feedback is the key. Once you've survived several rounds of experienced betas, you're ready to rock and roll!

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    1. Thanks Emily, I may have to have another round.

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  8. Wow Sara, this post hit me right between the eyes! I keep going back over my WIP thinking that at some point I will have that "Voila moment" where I know it's finished. I have recently come to the point that after my present pass over my MS I will send it to a different editor friend. If she gives it the okay then I'll send off my queries later this fall. Good luck, friend!

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    1. I keep going over mine, spinning my wheels without making any thing really better or worse. Good luck, I hope those queries go well!

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  9. Hey Sara. I'm lucky to be working with a good friend who is also my editor. As soon as she and I get 2 to 3 round of edits finished, I'll start sending out queries. Talk to your beta readers and/or cps, I'm sure they give you some good feedback. And then, you're just gonna have to jump in! (:

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    1. Thanks Elise. It's always great to have good crit partners. Good luck with your queries!

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  10. I think getting into a routine with writing helps a lot with both knowing when the MS is ready and with knowing where to go when you get stuck. I admit to having times where I got stuck enough with a novel (more like being bored with it) that I just pushed it into the trash bin and started anew. If nothing else, it's practice.

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    1. Very true. Though, I'm not quite ready to give up on this one yet.

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  11. I hit my head against the wall, and if that doesn't work, I go for a run. :D

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    1. Lol, Unfortunately I run into walls on a regular basis. I'll have to try the running.

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  12. I usually just go with the path I saw first and make a footnote of all the other paths. Who knows? Maybe when I go back and edit I will find that some of these paths can actually coexist.

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    1. You know, often the first path is the best. I just always second guess myself.

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  13. If the "where I want to go next" refers to the writing then I go to sleep or take a shower. (My muse likes to visit when I can't take notes.) If the question is about what to do with the project after finishing then I haven't really hit that point yet. I'm doing my first in-depth, post-critiqued edits and revisions. It's getting there, closer all the time, but not quite there yet. Soon though. Soon.

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    1. Good luck! I love hearing that people are getting close.

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  14. I keep writing - even if it doesn't make sense for this chapter, I may be able to use it elsewhere.

    And, I'm still moving forward :)

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  15. It's been awhile but seems to me I became published by accident. I stopped stressing myself out worrying whether it was time. I actually set the ms aside for a year, then one day I decided to have one copy printed. My life changed from there. I think as you mature, you gain confidence and the ability to listen to that blessed instinct you're born with. You just know. And no that's not much help if you don't feel that way at the present moment. I remember someone saying exactly that and me thinking, Thank for the help, but no thanks! And then one day zing ... I just knew. And now with two books published, one on the way, and 2 in the works, I actually don't think or worry. I rely on my instincts. I do make sure I get plenty of feedback. My partners check out my ms because I trust and I know they won't hold back. Then I read Donald Maass' workbook Breakout Novel just make sure I've done the very best I can do. Then I put the ms aside for 10 days, start a new book, read the ms over, and start querying.

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  16. I guess the best advice I ever heard was ... 'Do something!" even if its not the best option, at least you have something to work with.

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  17. I know exactly how that feels! I seem to be dealing with it by jumping into a new story, but then I feel doubly guilty - I'm supposed to be editing the other one.

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