My manuscript for UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO arrived in the mail today along with a letter from my editor, Melissa, detailing her suggestions for edits and revisions. Some are broad and will be difficult to manage and others are small and simple.
Overall, I agree with Melissa’s assessment of what needs to be done to improve the book, but much of it involves “killing my darlings,” which is never easy for me.
As a writer, I have learned that the struggles with my writing center upon my tendency to ignore plot in favor of character, my propensity to digress and obsess on areas of the story that I find interesting but others do not, and an overall blindness and disregard to pacing. In Melissa’s notes, for example, she suggests the elimination or serious reduction of chapters dealing with two minor characters who I adore but admittedly do not serve the plot as well as others. In sort, they slow down the story and serve as digression rather than progression. Of course, my agent, Taryn, made similar suggestions as we revised the manuscript prior to submission, but I attempted to deflect Taryn’s concerns by wrapping these two characters into the plot more cohesively, though in my heart, I knew that these two characters, a man and a woman, were still guilty pleasures, characters who I loved who might not be right for the story.
To Taryn’s credit, she tried to alleviate my sadness over the possible loss of these characters by suggesting they might be right for another book. Just not this one.
She’s an excellent manager of my emotions.
So begins the dance between the revising of UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO and the writing of THE CHICKEN SHACK. Do I put THE CHICKEN SHACK aside for a few weeks and focus on my revisions, or do I attempt to work on both, dividing my time and energy evenly? Or should I give UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO the majority of my time but leave a little bit left each day to peck away at THE CHICKEN SHACK?
My wife suggested I prioritize: If I want to see UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO out next summer, I should turn my attention to my revisions first, and then get back THE CHICKEN SHACK later. While this may make sense, the problem with this strategy is that I am enjoying my work on THE CHICKEN SHACK immensely and would hate to put it aside for even a day. Besides, I told my wife my latest aphorism:
Prioritizing is for losers who can’t get their stuff done on time.
I’ll just do both.