Oh, how I loved that manuscript! Every word, every page, every idiom and anecdote. Every metaphorical reference and symbolic image. How completely it filled my life . . . even when I didn’t have my hands all over it, it was still always there, heavy in my mind. There were times when it would wake me up in the middle of the night calling attention to itself. Other times it would sneak into my shower, planting a conversation in my head, demanding that I step out, soaking wet and dripping, to work on it while the words still rung fresh in my mind.
We carried on like that until finally it was done, fully formed and complete! And I was more enamored than I’d ever been. Enough to share it with others, quite sure they too would adore it as much a I did.
But, of course they didn’t. Of course they had suggestions . . . things to say about its character, its depth, its sense of style and, can you believe it, even its voice! Oh, those critics. They just didn’t understand us!
Part of me felt like I’d let my manuscript down, like it had been violated and I was the one who let it happen. But another part of me knew they were right, that I’d gotten too close and could no longer see its metaphorical forest through the allusion of its trees.
So I stepped back a bit, took a break from it.
And like Ross on Friends . . .
. . . I started seeing other manuscripts.
Yes, it’s true. I was unfaithful. *hanging head in shame* First it was with a middle grade manuscript about a thirteen year old boy, hopelessly lost in a strange new world. All he wanted to do was to get back home and I wrote him most of the way there.
But, since I’m being completely open and honest here (unlike Ross who took a while to fess up)
. . . that second manuscript was not the only one to catch my eye. No, I’m embarrassed to say that I abandoned the thirteen year old (for a while at least), left him stranded in that alternate world when my eye strayed once more.
This time it’s with a feisty little YA who looks and acts a lot like the sixteen year old I was a “few” years back.
So now it’s a new voice that calls me out of the shower, a new teenage angst that begs to have its story written. Oh, sure it’s tormented with just as much family drama as my first was. Sure, it’s got a lot of lessons to learn about life. But it’s a smart little manuscript and I know if I stay with it long enough, it’ll pull itself up by its bootstraps and come to a world-shattering conclusion. One that will leave me in about the same frame of emotion I’d been when my first manuscript ended.
Yet, in my heart of hearts (and I don’t claim to know what that really means), there will only be one first love. No matter how much dust I let it collect, no matter how much criticism I let it take from others, my first manuscript will always hold that special place in my heart . . . of hearts.
In fact (and please don’t say a word to my other two Works in Progress), but I’m about to reconcile with that first love of mine! I’ve selected it to escort me to Darcy Pattison’s novel revision workshop in January.
And I can’t