I submitted my first page to Flogging the Quill. I had a feeling the reviewer wouldn't care for it, and he didn't. I told myself I wouldn't look until Friday, when a new post would be up and mine would be moved down, but the reviewer sent me an email so I looked.
(groan) Bad idea. I'd been feeling pretty good about things, but, to quote Finding Nemo, "Good feeling's gone."
I've spent eight months rewriting the first scene. I like it the way it is, if it's going to be there at all. The reviewer suggested jumping ahead to the action a few pages ahead, but I'm extremely uncomfortable with that idea. (The later scene involves a Ranger being attacked by a lion.)
The thing is, I find myself in the excruciatingly uncomfortable position of trying to reconcile my own personal taste with what I'm told the publishing world wants. No doubt agents and editors would be more likely roused from their cynical fog by a guy in mortal peril from a ferocious, man-eating beast.
But, personally, if I opened a book and that was the first scene, I'd toss it aside as too graphic. I'd rather build slowly. That whole section seems a little gratuitous anyway, essentially a concession to readers who like more immediate action in their narratives.
I'm thinking now of doing away with the whole first chapter altogether. I'm thinking of eliminating the male POV and just focusing on the heroine. I'm thinking of redecorating my dollhouses, or taking up cross-stitch again.
I'm thinking maybe I should just write the book the way I want to, and stop trying to please everyone. But that's how writers don't get published. At least, I think so. I can't really say, since their books aren't available to read.
I have a literary reader who's offered to look at it. I haven't given it to him yet because, frankly, I'm a little embarrassed. I have a feeling he'll hate it. I've come so far from my original concept. Perhaps I've come too far.
Or not far enough.
Who the heck knows?
I mean, the feedback was good. I'm not questioning the responses. It's just that I really don't have a clue how to make this story fit what everyone else is looking for. For one thing, if I do cut the first chapter, where does all that character development go? So then I have to ask, is this story publishable? Maybe not. Can I live with that? I think so. I'd rather be done - finally - than just keep cycling back to the beginning like a hamster on a wheel.
Yes, I'd like it to just be done. Then maybe we can all (including you, my patient friends) move on with our lives.
I do think a big part of the problem is my fear of over-writing, which has possibly resulted in under-writing. I was told I was melodramatic a long time ago, and have tried very hard to avoid such a charge since.
I think I've succeeded.