I Think I Had a Breakthrough!

I had a couple of ideas for today’s post.  I could discuss the recent devaluing of the accomplishments of a national book award winner.  Or, I could apply the recent teachings of Chris Rock to the publishing industry.  OR I could talk about an epiphany I had about my manuscript.

I chose option 3. Mainly because I’ve discovered that the posts about my personal struggles (e.g., how not writing is makes me feel fat) usually get the most hits. Those and the ones with Kanye in the title- no wonder CNN keeps posting those stories about weight loss and reality stars!

Anyway, let’s just say I’ve spent the last couple of months pondering about my manuscript. Pondering the things that must be changed within it, but also pondering about the way I pitched to the dozen or so agents I sent query letters to.

Perhaps the little thing that I know needs to be changed (yet haven’t been able to figure out) does not actually concern my manuscript, but rather my query letter. I’ve read that one of the fatal mistakes people make when pitching agents is inaccurately describing the story. The result is that the agent asks for some pages expecting one thing, and gets another. Or, perhaps more tragically, an agent passes on pages because they think it’s about one thing, when they were actually looking for something like what you wrote.

I have described my story as a love story or, alternatively, a story about a relationship (probably on this blog, but definitely in my query letter). What inspired me to write it? Well, what I learned about how a relationship can change you- it forces you to figure out your fundamental values, you experience growth from combining your hopes and dreams with someone else’s, and for a lot of people, heartbreak is the first time they experience grief.

Wait a second!

If that’s why I wrote this thing, then it’s not really a love story. It’s a coming of age story! The love story/relationship is just the catalyst. I mean it’s still central and important, but not the point. Really, it’s a dual coming of age story, because both the male and female protagonist evolve and learn about themselves from the experience.  There’s also the black lives matter angle (black fictional lives in this case)- that is, I make some conscious efforts to depict aspects of black life that I don’t see a lot.  I also don’t really talk about that in my pitch.

I’m not sure how much the rest of the world cares about this, but it feels good to have a mini breakthrough.   Happy holidays!!!

Not Writing = Fatness

I will admit it that I have been slacking. And now I feel fat.  Not literally though-

Let me explain.

Many people have asked me “how did you write a novel and maintain a full time job?” My response is typically to explain that writing is like exercising. It’s work and takes discipline, but ultimately, I feel better about life after doing it.  The routine gives me that content, productive, got-my-ish-together feeling.  And then they understand.

Since I haven’t been writing or blogging regularly, I don’t know how else to describe my current state other than to say I feel fat.

But it’s ok because I have a plan.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where people all over the country (world? universe?) strive to write 50,000 words by November 30. All those people out there with a novel inside of them make an attempt to finally get it out.  Part of me thinks the whole thing feels weirdly contrived.  The other part thinks this may be the only way to get me back into the groove.  I’m embracing the “other part” and thus I will strive to (1) revise my novel (again) and (2) get back to blogging weekly.

Substantively, I need to work on the dude aka my male protagonist. Everyone hates him but me. It wouldn’t bother me if some people didn’t like him, but this is consistent feedback that I have received, which is not right because he is supposed to be a decent human being. So, despite my previous resistance, I’m going to try re-writing his chapters in the first person. That is supposed to be the perspective that people connect to the most, so maybe that will help resolve the problem.

Technically, I just need to cut some stuff out. Usually, I’m good at eliminating superfluous words/paragraphs. But usually, I’m also working on shorter documents. It can literally take me hours to revise a memo that’s only 4 or 5 pages. Nevertheless, that’s one of my most important writing skills so I might as well apply it to the most (personally) important thing I’ve ever written!

So basically, I have nine more days of fatness to go.  Thankfully, I’ll be on vacation for four of them. Wish me luck!

P.S. I got an e-mail from my novel the other day: