When I do choose to root and hoot, it is because there is a reason, a purpose. Like if I find out that so-in-so's quarterback was raised on a banana boat and though he had nothing, he helped little old ladies cross the street until he was drafted to the NFL, I'll watch. It interests me. I hope they do well because they have worked hard or they are nice people. That is how I feel about this week's author. I have not read her book yet, but I will read it as soon as I can get my paws on it AND I will also buy all of her subsequent work because of the story she shares with us today. I am a loyal, rootin', hootin', fan of this week's author, Jeannie Mobely!
On August 28th, I celebrated the release of my debut novel, KATERINA'S WISH. Like most debut authors, this was hardly the first manuscript I wrote, or even the first one I sent out in the world seeking publication. And like so many who came before me, my road to publication was strewn with banana peels.
I wrote a reasonable story, but I didn't capture the feeling, and so I was disappointed with it. I thought I might be able to improve it, but my critique group all liked it as it was, so, against my better judgment, I sent it to my agent. She liked it enough to circulate it, but it came back from four or five editors with the same comments--it was underdeveloped, too skeletal, too simplistic in the plot. My agent and I agreed that it should be pulled from circulation and revised to address those concerns before going out again. Actually, it is what she said, and I nodded my head as if agreeing, but inside I was thinking, "See everybody, I told you so. This manuscript is garbage."
Those of you familiar with tropical fruit, will at once spot many little flashes of yellow in the above paragraph. I, of course, didn't see them for several years.
I got it out, read the first paragraph, and wanted to puke. The revulsion was stronger than ever. So I put it away and went back to an old pet project of mine, one of my favorite story ideas that I originally wrote years ago, before I had the writing chops to pull it off. I wrote happily, savoring my favorite characters, my lovely setting, my exciting and twisting plot.
Uugh. I hit a new low. How could I ever make it at as a writer if I was this blind? The things I loved, others hated. The thing I hated, everyone else loved. What was wrong with me?
I finally saw it when the book was all formatted and my first pass pages came to me. These are camera ready pages, looking exactly as they will in the final book. By then, it had someone else's title (my editor came up with it), the artist's vision on the cover and interior pages, the designer's choice of font, etc. In other words, I got some separation because it was no longer my manuscript, it had transformed into Simon and Schuster's book. And I read through and discovered, "there's some good stuff in here. So that's what they've all been talking about!"
I feel pretty good about the book now. I can embrace it, and it's characters.. It is my debut novel, the critics have spoken well of it, and it's got one sweet, tough character who people love, and who might even be a bit like me. And as for all those banana peels? I'm using them as compost to fertilize the garden of my muse.