When I naively began writing a novel, I had a strong plot in mind and zipped through the first draft thinking that a project of this magnitude wasn't as hard as everyone said. What an innocent I was!
After having several people read it, several agents reject it, and finally making an honest assessment of the work myself, I realized that I needed to do a complete rewrite of the book. It needed character development and a broader story. That strong plot I mentioned was there, but that was all - I had a plot but not an enjoyable read.
With the first rewrite complete, I was aware that it still didn't seem good enough. This is a trap that writers can fall into which results in nothing ever being "finished", but I didn't think that was the case here. My next step was to introduce the work to my writing group.
Their help has been invaluable. In an earlier blog, I described my group as an eclectic one, but we are all of one mind when it comes to aiding each other with our particular work. I have received some excellent suggestions that have improved the current draft. Of course, I don't use all their advice; I think I have enough artistic integrity to sort through the recommendations and decide what will advance the task.
The best part about working on it now is that I am beginning to see a finished product that I will be proud to introduce to agents. Throughout this long process - and it has taken years of work because I've never had the time to devote to it exclusively - I have grown as a writer. I have read instructional books, pored over successful novels, listened to qualified critics and laboured silently on my own to create a work with what I feel are three-dimensional characters and a story that will keep pages turning. It hasn't always been a comfortable road to travel; I'm not sure writers are good at admitting that what they write isn't good enough. But, in coming to terms with the minuses in my book, I have discovered pluses that I wasn't even aware were lurking in my creative brain.
I am eager now to finish it and present it for publication but I am being careful not to be too eager at the expense of good words. I'll let you know how it comes out.