This is the hardest part of the whole process, by far. Not developing my characters. Not figuring out the timeline and story. Definitely not writing it all down. It’s figuring how how much to takeaway from feedback and how much to trust your own instincts when it comes to your story.
I’ve had a handful of people ‘beta read’ my manuscript. I’ve had each give their own feedback that I either used, or didn’t and continued on to reach out to different agencies in hopes to find one that would want to represent me. For the longest time, I thought this was going to be that first victory. My first, “YES!” moment. Which it is in a way… but now that I’m going back after taking a break from looking at my book, and having finished one of the recommended reads, I find myself wondering – How much am I willing to compromise in order to be ‘accepted’?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with all of the advice. And I did enjoy the book I read. Was it vastly different from the feeling I am trying to get across with mine? Yes. But it did give me insight as to what agents might be looking for, and also what I want to say and how. However, I reminded myself after I finished the last page and closed that book – no pun intended… I realized that, HELLO! I, too, am a reader. I’m a reader before I even consider myself a writer, because I still have yet to be technically published. I have no agent either, so right now, I’m just a tired little mama with a lot of words saved together on a file in her laptop.
So I have to question whether or not I feel I will take the advice, or how much of it, and apply it to my editing. I like my book right now, I LOVE my book right now. I have it outlined in a specific way in order to reveal only what I want at the right times. So thinking that this might be compromised (there’s that word again), bothers me. It actually makes me emotional to think that the main thing I was most proud of when I typed that very first word, is something others might think I need to change.
Now, agents only read a section. They typically don’t read the whole thing. So some suggestions are only based off of what was read and not the big picture. I want to feel that this is the beauty of my book. The people that did complete it, seemed to have really enjoyed it. But, that may just be because they’re my friends… your friends won’t tell you that your hard work isn’t good enough. I have been combing through the pages again myself, for the first time in months and I just can’t, for the life of me, figure out what parts should go away or be changed. They’re all relevant. They’re all significant. They all play a part in why everyone ends up where they are.
I’ve read different articles where very famous authors fought for their story. They refused to make certain changes or lose characters because they knew it would change the whole balance of the story. But then I have also read where suggestions of colleagues or agents or publishers took their book from nothing to SOMETHING. Like million dollar somethings. Multi million dollar somethings. Do I think that my book has this potential? Possibly. Do I believe it will happen? I don’t really know… Maybe? But at some point, which I have never been too great at, I have to trust my gut and determine what should truly stay or go.
After starting on the second recommended book, I feel a bit more comfortable. The first was just not one I’ve connected with… so maybe once I complete it, my mind will be exposed to something else that makes me click into a different idea than what I’m struggling with now? Because yes, I write chick lit. I want to reach other women ‘like me’… but I don’t want to end up a boring read. Nothing pisses me off more than finishing a book that doesn’t make me feel like I just lost my best friend. I want some thrill and intensity… I think my book brings some edge to the shelf that some chick lit writers don’t necessarily do. And the funny thing is, I second guessed myself a LOT when I was reaching the end of my story. I wondered if it was going to be too dark for who I was trying to impress. But then I read The Husband’s Secret, and then Big Little Lies, and then What Alice Forgot (all Liane Moriarty – her best 3… don’t go beyond that) and realized… YES!! Thrill does have a place in this arena. Nothing too insane, but it’s real. Kind of. But nothing turns me off more than cheesy, unrealistic dialogue. I don’t want to read the same love story over and over just in a different city with different people. Or scenes that are too wordy, repetitive or meaningless. So when I read those books, I was inspired and encouraged to push on and knew I was moving in the right direction. I have found that I’ve gotten a few of these little shoves throughout my process.
Something about remembering that feeling when I was driving in my car on the way back from my workout, beating myself up, once again, reminded me that although yes, feedback is good, GREAT… it’s just that. Opinions and advice from an outside perspective that may or may not help you on your journey. I am definitely not hurt or offended, but it did open up other lanes of thinking for myself. Made me really focus on what I want to say and how, and what I find truly important with my writing that I either will or will not compromise (yes – I said it again) on.
I love that I have this now. This strange confidence in myself. It’s not something that’s always come easy for me and I usually (when I was younger) would change anything in a heartbeat just not to feel the embarrassment of being judged or not liked in some way. I’ve just finally reached that sweet spot in life where I know what I want, I’m proud of what I do and I know what I’m comfortable with adjusting that won’t jeopardize the integrity of the work (or myself for that matter). And maybe that’s the point of all this?
I will press on, still keeping ALL of the feedback in the front of my mind, because however confident I am, I’m not an idiot.
Today I offer you these babies. (this one should be pretty kid friendly)
Paprika Lime Chicken and Salsa
4 thin sliced chicken breasts
1 can low- sodium black beans, rinsed
1 can no salt added corn, drained
1 avocado, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tbsp parsley (you can also use cilantro if you prefer)
2 limes (one for chicken one for salsa)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
- Combine the olive oil, juice of one lime, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, then all of the onion powder, garlic powder and oregano. Place chicken in and marinate for 30 mins to an hour (you don’t HAVE to let it sit, but the longer you do the more flavorful the chicken will be).
- Combine black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, minced garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, juice of the other lime, red onion, remaining pepper, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and parsley.
- Heat your large skillet or cast iron and place the chicken in with the marinade. Cook about 6 mins each side (allow for a little char). When fully cooked, either place over salsa or slice up for a taco and top with the salsa.