Thursday, November 5, 2009

Different Kinds of Manuscripts

As I sip on my Skinny Snowman Latte (with an extra shot of espresso), wondering whether I should get started on my new manuscript or play on the interwebs and fritter away my day, I find myself thinking of how there are different kinds of manuscripts out there.

  • The One You Love: This is the manuscript that you love, and maybe your mother loves, but that's about it. You can't sell it, it has a stack of rejections, and even when you try to workshop it, people's eyes glaze over and they nod politely and say things like, "Oh, it's, creative." And although you love it, you can't bear (or can't see how) to change it. "Revisions" mean adding a scene or changing a few words, or fixing grammar--never deleting, rearranging, or doing significant changes. When you submit it--and you will, and you'll submit it to early--it will be rejected, and you will be shocked--shocked!--that anyone could possibly put it down.
  • The One You Hate: For whatever reason, this one isn't good enough. Maybe it's a drawer novel that you've recognized as drawer novel and can't stand it, maybe a critiquer wrote nasty things about it, maybe the rejections beat you down, maybe you just edited it to death. Whatever the reason, you hate it. You probably will never get to the point where you edit it again, and it will probably never see the light again...if you haven't already deleted it.
  • The One You Love to Hate: This one is written with blood, sweat, and tears. As you wrote it, it was the one you you revised it, it was the one you hated. Now that you've both written and revised it, it's the one you love to hate--you love what it is, but you hate what it isn't. You know it's not perfect--nothing ever can be--but it's as perfect as you can make This is the one you submit with professionalism, by which I mean, you select specific agents you think will like it, consider their comments if they reject it, and submit again without cycling into rage/depression. You know if--when--it gets accepted, you'll have to edit it again, and you don't dread the kinda sorta look forward to it.
As I start submitting one manuscript and begin working on another, I realize that, for the first time ever, I've got a manuscript that I love to hate. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside--my reaction to it somehow makes me think it's a worthier manuscript than others I've done before.

So, where are you with your manuscripts? Do you think there's another category out there I'm skipping?
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