According to my resolved writing-career strategy for the new year, the first ten pages of my children's book should be dusted off, attached to an email and on its way to an agency by now.
I'm sure you can guess from that sentence that my plan has gone awry.
The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.
That's one of the dangers of setting your writing on a shelf for a few years. When it crosses your mind, it glows beautiful, fresh, brilliant through your rose-colored-glasses memory. But brought back into the clear light of the present under a critical, refreshed eye, its flaws and weak spots glare like tarnished silver.
The wastebasket is a writer's best friend.
~Isaac Bashevis Singer
The first ten pages. Those are going to win or lose the deal for me. They have to be tempting. They have to hook an agent, convince him/her they'll never rest until they read the rest of my book. Or at the very least, convince him/her there's some potential in the story.
But never mind the first ten pages... it's been two weeks and I haven't moved beyond the first paragraph! I've rewritten it half a dozen times. Probably more. I'm even second-guessing which scene should start the book.
I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.
I realize I'm not so much an excellent rewriter as an obsessive one. One more week. Just one more week to play around with the opening, then I'm moving on with the rest of the story.
But I've taken other steps beyond reworking the beginning and setting this deadline for myself. Something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but couldn't until I entered these empty nest years when my Saturdays are no longer filled with soccer games, track meets and band competitions. I loved all of those things, don't get me wrong, and I don't regret putting this off until now, but I'm really excited for the freedom to do this...
...I've re-joined the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators! I let my membership drop years ago when I realized I couldn't be an active member. But monthly meetings and classes surrounded by other writers, the advice and support of a critique group and multiple sets of eyes examining my words... ah, just what I need! I'll have to thicken up my skin, preparing for the inevitable harsh critiques, but "no pain, no gain" holds true, even in writing!
The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.
~Jules Renard, "Diary," February 1895