Here’s a question: how much different rejection does it take before you realize something is not working?
It took me 6 years to finish The Curious Adventures of Winifred McQuary. While it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, but I felt confident in my work that it would be publishable at some point.
With the first chapters of my first draft, I was accepted into a highly competitive creative writing program. I worked with a mentor to finish most of the first draft, and he told me my story was publishable. That it was a solid idea.
After rounds and rounds of edits and read throughs from many different people, I thought it was ready. The feedback I’ve had from readers has been generally positive. So when I started sending it out, I expected rejection but thought maybe this book would fall into the right hands and find someone who’s as excited about it as I am.
But the more time I spent querying it and getting rejected, then not getting accepted into a Twitter-based mentorship program, the more I started to think that maybe something was missing or not quite right with the book. But since I spent 6 years working on it, I don’t know if I want all that time and effort to be in vain.
So I figure I have two options:
- I continue querying and hope that with an improved query letter I can find the right person to represent my book.
- I put the manuscript away for a while, work on different projects, then go back to it and see about edits or rewrites.
At the moment, I’m leaning towards shelving the book and going back to it later. But it sort of feels like I’m betraying it. Six years of work seems like a huge amount of effort to have it all come to nothing.
Sometimes I feel like I’m giving up too soon, when people have sent their book to hundreds of agents before giving up. In my opinion, that bordering on over-saturation. But should I keep sending it out when I feel in my gut that something isn’t quite right?
But I don’t believe it was for nothing. I learned so much about myself as a writer and about writing in general. I’ve discovered what the book has been missing since I started reflecting on it when the rejections kept coming in.
Despite the fact that it took 6 years to finish, I think I was trying to finish it as fast as possible so that I could get it published and start my life as a writer. But in that rush, I didn’t take the time to do some deep digging into the heart of the work. The story itself was fine⎯whenever I described the story to anyone it was met with positive feedback⎯but the storytelling wasn’t where it needed to be.
Poor Winifred doesn’t have a soul. The plot jumps from one point to another, giving Winnie plenty to do but nothing to struggle over. Her internal arc isn’t as developed as it should be. Her desires aren’t what drives the plot and, even in an adventure-like story, that needs to be what does.
I truly believe it’s not the end of Winifred’s adventures. The story isn’t worth giving up altogether, but I need time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder as they say. And, after all those years I spent working, I need time away to really appreciate it again.
I’m working on something new right now and giving it my very best. This one seems to have much more personality than Winnie’s book, the heart will come now that I know what to do.
So The Curious Adventures of Winifred McQuary probably won’t be my debut novel, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever.
If you’ve shown me support on this project, thank you so much. Please know that your kindness and encouragement is truly appreciated.
On to the next.