It becomes abundantly clear that Devil’s Gut is not done -yet.
After flirting with and then being chased by self-publishing companies, I have chosen to be a traditionalist. My latest submission, which engendered a request for a full manuscript submission, resulted in a ‘decline’. The decline came complete with comments, some of which I will admit are valid. The most telling was pacing. If I am honest with myself, that is a valid criticism. The rejection took a full six weeks to happen and in that time I was still working on the manuscript, excising more than 8000 words.
This experience raises an interesting issue. Intuition.
In the back of my mind, the feeling that pace was at times tedious, a result of too much irrelevant detail, whispered its objection, to which I covered my ears. Storytelling, I tell myself, is a natural and instinctive trait to the human specie. Intuition will tell me when I am sentimental, sophomoric, or pretentious. I am, however, guilty of ignoring or suppressing my intuition, for whatever reason, and rushing headlong in the heat of creation. I can probably remove another 1000 words at a minimum.
Instinct also tells me that I can put back several thousand of those words in better character development. The adrenalin charge from creating a story that basically works blinded me to the fact that there were still gaps in the character development. Is that possible – a story that works but lacking in character development?
Certainly. It’s called sketching; there is no complete storytelling. I know the weakness was there, in the back of my mind. I suppressed it. Why? Lack of trust in my own instinct? A lack of respect for my own sense of authenticity?
Confidence in one’s instinct need not be arrogance. It can be, for sure. If our voice is somehow connected to something internal then we should not fear the internal modulation of that tiny little voice. I need to respect my own talent, let my talent speak. It is amazing how self-destructive I can be!
Yesterday was a terrible day; I have never seen so much rain in one day. Given the nature of the day, I abstained from life. I grabbed a Grisham novel off the shelf, curled up in a comfortable chair and read. Grisham is a commercial writer of significant success. As I read Testament, the flow of his language struck me. I looked quickly to my own manuscript. For the most part, it flowed too; not everywhere, however. Again, I knew that too. How? That silly little voice in the back of my head. I know what good writing feels like physically, vocally, and emotionally. Much of my manuscript felt that way – but not all. Once again, I knew that too; if I allowed myself to know it!
At one point during the day, I went on line to read several of the group discussions at Writer’s Digest. There was on young woman who had posted several pages of an opening chapter for comment. There was too much information in an opening monologue that troubled me. Then, as I reread, I felt the language and it didn’t flow; too many extra words that didn’t say anything, only qualified the sense of the moment. The language was not on point. It tip-toed through the opening scene as if apologizing for itself, or fearing to take a stand. Lights went on all over my brain. Listen to your brain, dude! It’s the best editor available – and free!!
The resulting conclusion is one I really wanted in the first place; I’ll say no to self-publishing for the near future. Using the notes from the agent and my own newly discovered self-respect, we shall address this manuscript one more time. If I produce a manuscript that feels right to me and it is still rejected, then it’s on to self-publishing, make an end to this story and move on to the next.
Isn’t self-respect a wonderful thing?