Monday, August 23, 2010

Things you hang on to

You know how when your kids are little, you hang on to EVERY picture or art project they finish because each one represents some major milestone they managed to accomplish?

A circle. A real circle that is round and doesn't look like a squished eyeball.

A line. One that makes the house touch the ground instead of floating in the air.

A face. With features and more than three strands of hair sticking straight up.

I sort of feel that way about one of my middle grade novels.

I keep trying to rewrite the opening because the general response is that it sets a great tone, but no one is sure where it's going. Readers feel like they are floundering, and they don't trust it.

Now...I understand that the world of the story is very foreign. I also understand I can't let that be some excuse not to draw a better circle, line, or face.

But each rewritten opening completely loses the heart of the character at the middle of the story. It becomes a plot line of information to help the reader understand the foreign world.

So I'm trying to decide...

Do I keep coming back to the original opening because it belongs there?

Or is it just one of those pictures I'm hanging on to?

And I need to decide soon, because I'm going a bit crazy...and I sort of feel like I'm floating in the air with squished eyeballs and only three strands of hair left.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Sting of a Jelly

I've waited to talk about growing a thick skin to handle rejection for a long time, because usually it comes across as a pumping sunshiney Nike commercial.

When really, it's more like getting stung by a jelly fish.

Which happened to me for the first time today.

My kids and I spent a gorgeous day at the beach jumping over waves...occasionally getting knocked over...sand in all corners of the suits...when I felt a ZIP across my leg that stung enough to make me swear in German. And then each of the kids got zapped, too.

Needless to say, we didn't want to jump waves anymore. I sat on my beach mat to check out the welts on my leg and foot, and they searched the sand at the edge of the water for broken mother of pearl looking shells.

I watched them thinking...that's EXACTLY what it feels like to get a rejection letter.

It bites.

Enough to make you swear in German.

It makes you want to quit playing in the proverbial writing waters.

But eventually, the sting goes away. All it leaves is a little red mark. Maybe a scar. Maybe a spot where your skin is a little thicker.

And eventually, like my kids and I today, you are ready to jump a few waves again. Even knowing that you'll probably get taken out by a jelly or two.