Friday, April 9, 2010

Nobody knew what kind of magic spell to use

The always excellent Jim C. Hines is hosting a not-a-raffle to raise money for rape crisis centers. The prize in a signed ARC of the next book in his Princess series, Red Hood's Revenge (But wait! A second prize has been added, since over $1000 has been raised! A signed copy of Heroes in Training.) RAINN is an organization that helped me a lot, and is really close to my heart. The not-a-raffle ends on 16 April. I encourage you to make a donation and participate if you can.


I figured out the second writing project that I am going to be working on while I write Seen (which is still cooperating. Hurrah! I am not broken.) I am revising Linger.

For those of you who do not yet have the various and sundry details of my life memorized, Linger is the novel that I finished at the end of last year, and have been querying agents about. Recently something happened that for now I'll call interesting, as I don't quite feel comfortable going into detail about it. As a result of this interesting development, I am revising the manuscript.

Here's the thing. When I started sending out query letters, I had made the story as good as I could have at that point. I had already done two substantive rewrites, two manuscript-wide revisions, and one focused revision. I had sought and incorporated feedback from a very large number of readers, both of the writerly sort and of the normal human variety. It was the best that I could do. Then.

Now, I'm making it better. The temporal space has given me enough distance that I can see flaws that I couldn't before, and it's less painful to fix them. And I'm also a better writer now. It's the reality of learning any skill - your early efforts are unlikely to be your best. 

Does this mean that I shouldn't have sent the manuscript out when I did? No. Because I needed to learn how to do that, too: how to put together a query letter, and a synopsis (oh, bless you, agents who do not requite a synopsis) and how to think about having something larger than a short story out and under consideration. Because I was done telling that story, and needed to move on to the next one.

And mostly because I think that writing never actually gets to be perfect. I think there's always a gap between the shape of the story in my head (shining, lapidary, and perfect) and the shape of the story on the page. I think my duty to the story is to get it as close as I can to perfect at that time and then to know when to let it go. I don't think this is being lazy, or settling. It's just that there are a lot of stories that I want to tell. Too many to spend all of my life polishing one.

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