Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ignorance WAS Bliss

Every writer has experienced the moment when a heretofore unheard of, unknown character has appeared from the creative ether fully formed, fully voiced. These moments usually occur in those quiet in between times when our brains are uncluttered and open to the voices of characters, both known and new. (For me it is in the shower.) Sometimes the voice may be a gentle whisper introducing itself, other times it is loud and nagging: “Write my story! Write my story!” We ignore them at our own peril. Angie introduced herself to me loudly and insistently.

I put aside my WIP, and set to taking dictation from the seventeen year old who seemed to believe her story was unique and the true path to finding an agent. Yes, I believed this was the one. This was the story that would put me on the Young Adult map. Novel, original, Angie’s story would certainly lead to that coveted agent contract. And it was going to be so much fun to write.

Fast forward about 25,000 words. I’m perusing the YA section of a local bookstore and my eyes light on an attractive book cover that seems to be rather evocative of Angie’s story. My hands are shaking as I take it off the shelf and read the inside flap. Stomach flops. I flip to the first page. Yes, this book has eerie similarities to Angie, though there is plenty that is different, I tell myself. Ten minutes later I see another book with a similar theme. Gulp. This bookstore visit is no longer any fun and I turn and leave.

Shaken, but undaunted, I continue to plod away on Angie. Day job and life keep me from writing at the pace I’d like, but forward progress is made.

Fast forward another 20,000 words. I follow the blogs and tweets of several agents who represent children/YA writers. I open the blog of one especially prestigious agent to read that if she sees one more manuscript with the XXXXXXX theme (Angie’s story!) she will go crazy. She, and every other agent in the world, receives at least five such manuscripts daily. Oh dear. Oh dear. I had no idea. Truly, though I read YA, I had never read anything like my book. How and when and why had this happened?

And what to do now? Abandon the story I’ve enjoyed writing? Continue on just because? Continue on and self publish, since obviously there’s a reason these books are being written and catch that wave while I can?

Any long time reader of this humble blog knows by now I don’t easily give up. So I chose to finish the first draft of Angie, and am now working on the first rewrite. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I finish, but at least I will have finished another book. I’ll make my decision when that time comes. And if you have any advice, please leave a comment. I welcome any suggestions.

By the way, I know I disappeared from the radar for an unprecedented length of time. Between the day job and a long and nasty bout of pneumonia I fell behind on everything in my life. But I’m back and ready to forge on.

Happy writing!