Monday, 12 November 2012

Judgement Day

 Occasionally, I will read through my m.s and be entirely happy. "It's good," I'll think," it's really good!"
 The next day however I can quite easily read it through again only this time I'll be entirely miserable. "It's rubbish, it's awful, it's a pile of monkey poo and I'm going to give up writing and move to Mongolia to try my hand at Yak farming instead."
 I believe, that this is actually quite normal among writers. This sort of Jekyll and Hyde behaviour is common and if we're lucky the good days will outnumber the bad and we won't actually book a flight to Mongolia.

 The hardest days though usually come after long months of revising, after you've read your m.s so many times you could almost recite it backwards and that is that day when you no longer have any idea of whether your work is good or bad and you've lost all sense of judgement about it entirely.
 Possibly it's a work of genius that will lead to a publication deal, fame, glory and riches but it's also possible that any agent  receiving it will be so offended that they'll decide to give up their job and get the next flight out to Mongolia so they can start a new career in Yak farming.
 I hate those days with a passion because what are you supposed to do now?
 There is a huge temptation at this point to just send it out on submission and let someone else figure it out for you. Usually you're so fed up of it you never want to see it again anyway so you might as well try your luck!

Or should you?

 Because, let's face it, even when you send out your work when you're as confident as possible that its as good as possible  it  that holds no guarantees at all. It may be good, it may be well written but;
 It may not be what they're looking for.
 It may not have a saleable concept.
 It may be similar to something else they're already representing.
 It may not be a genre they enjoy.
 It may not be a voice they engage with.
 It may not be to their taste.
 Or, quite simply, (as my friend Larisa once told me when I was rejected on my full m.s) - they might not love it enough. And by that I mean really LOVE it.
How often do you really LOVE a book? Love it enough to take a risk on? Love it enough to read it over and over again? Love it enough to talk about all day with everyone you meet?
 I'm guessing it's not that often and I imagine it's the same for agents and publishers.

 So with all the possible problems that can stop even the best manuscripts being successful, imagine how much more difficult it will be to surmount them on a manuscript that you're not confident about? An m.s that you've sent out in a fit of panic?

 The answer to those days when your judgement is impaired, when you can no longer see the wheat in the chaff is not to panic. Don't send it out. Don't delete it. Just put it away. Give it a few weeks. A month. Read it again with fresh eyes.
 You'll discover it all over again and if you're lucky you might fall in love with it and be able to send it out with a warm and fuzzy glow or you might see nothing but problems and things that need fixing but honestly isn't it better that you see them then an agent?


  1. Ha! I can sing my MS backwards. In French. Weird, because I can't speak French...

    How can the same words be awesome one day and stomach-wrenchingly grim the next? Especially if they're our own. Maybe it's hormone-related? Or chocolate?

    Mmm... I think I might have hit upon a valid theory there... and solution.

  2. I'm pretty sure chocolate s a valid solution to almost anything!! Lorraine x