Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Barking Up a New Tree

I made my decision: I'm abandoning the manuscript even though this draft is 80 percent finished, with 8 of 10 chapters done. I've gone with the wisdom in my friend Ina's advice: "Just because you've begun a mistake, you're under no obligation to continue in it." I spent some time reading reviews of very successful chapter books online - books that are much more successful in terms of criticial acclaim and commercial success than mine - and realized that the book I was working on just wasn't BIG enough, BOLD enough, BRAVE enough.

So then I spent the afternoon starting a completely new book, with the same characters, but this time they are much funnier because they are doing much funnier things. The story came pouring out of me - I never wanted to stop. I was laughing out loud as I wrote it. I read the chapter to my son at dinner (over his objections - does any seventeen-year-old really want to hear his mother read aloud to him her new chapter that she thinks is so very funny?). He did chuckle in a couple of places. Maybe he was just humoring me. But still.

I've emailed the chapter to one writer friend who in the past has been an extremely tough and perceptive critic. I'll see what she says. Is this the tree that I'm supposed to be barking up, or not? If she says not, I'll take her opinion very seriously and probably start barking up tree number three instead. But, whatever she says yesterday afternoon was wonderful. I wrote something I loved, and I loved the sheer act of writing it. That counts for something. It really does.


  1. Yes, the ability to let go and start over is excellent. I look forward to your bigger, better, funnier story. Congratulations on the Colorado Book Award, too.