I’m coming to the end of editing before trying to pitch and/or query my fantasy novel manuscript. It’s been a long road. I finished writing the story several years ago, started edits and rewrites, and then set it aside for over a year. I love the characters and settings I developed in this work, but I was a afraid no one would like the story. And so I let no one else see it despite wanting to get it published someday.
When I finally plucked up the courage to share bits of my novel with others, I was active on a writing forum attached to a bigger site. The feedback I received from that group trampled what little confidence I had found. There were several regulars on that forum who were condescending much of the time and belittled new members and young writers just trying to learn and improve. They told me my story would never gain an agent’s interest, because even if the writing itself is good, they would have no clue how to market it. (And this was the feedback I received when these people were being “polite.”)
So I ended up sitting on my manuscript for another year. I stopped frequenting that forum and spent several months exploring the development of new storylines, outlining, and beginning new novel drafts. None of them went very far as none sparked my interest to the same degree as the old characters and settings of my first manuscript. I joined NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo for several sessions, trying to force myself to work on those manuscripts, but by then end of those months, I had pushed until I was sick of writing and dropped those projects like a hot potato.
Eventually I found another writing forum where the people were much more friendly and wanted to help other writers grow and prep for querying. I liked them, and after a while, they warmed up to me as well. Unfortunately, once I offered some of that original manuscript for feedback, I found myself discouraged once again. This time there was no belittling of the plot or story itself, but the responses I did receive seemed to contradict each other. Each time I tried to fix something, I would receive feedback that indicated I should undo whatever I had just done. And after a few rounds of this, I became defensive over my work. But I had no clue how else to react. Is it wrong to ask for justification or clarification or even to just make a request of “how would you fix this sentence/paragraph?” as an example when you’ve gone four rounds of editing and feedback gets worse instead of better with each round? I had had enough. So I left that forum as well, not because I wanted to but because I had lost face and figured it would be pointless to remain with a group who thought I couldn’t take criticism.
I left writing entirely for a few years after that. Part of that time was due to not knowing what to write after having struggled with developing other stories. Part of that time was also due to a series of events that left me uninterested in pursuing much of anything (aka depression sucks). After another couple of years, I found my motivation again (and you can find previous blog posts on that in my archives) and returned to trying to develop something worth querying with this first manuscript. At this point, I don’t want to share it with anyone else and become discouraged again. I have sat on this manuscript for too many years, and I want to know whether or not those in the publishing industry see any value in it. I realize I will most likely be discouraged again, that the chances of this novel being picked up are slim to none, but at least I will finally be able to lay it to rest and focus my mind on something else.
May the funeral be a short one.