Go Big or Go Home

It’s been a trying couple of weeks here in Aspiring Authorland. After plodding along at a pretty regular clip on a novel and completing about 1/3 of the first draft, I submitted it to an editor and asked for some objective input on how it was going.

Needless to say, his eyes didn’t open wide with delight like Simon Cowell’s did a few weeks back when Susan Boyle opened her mouth to start singing. His feedback was to stop, go back to the beginning, and start over from scratch. As hard as that was to hear, I actually agreed with him.

But while he was evaluating the manuscript, I shot out of bed one night with a perfect idea for a short story. I finished the final draft last night. It’s called “Animal Control” and it’s beautiful. Really. I showed it to this same editor, worked with him briefly on it, and submitted it this morning to “The New Yorker.” As crazy as this sounds, I think it actually has a shot at being considered for publication there, or I wouldn’t have sent it in. I’ll post an update here once I hear back from them.

What did I learn from all of this?

  • Go Big or Go Home

Write what you love. I was writing a formulaic novel because I had been reading agent blogs, editor blogs, publisher blogs and the like for months, and thought that if I could just piece together something that made sense and had a semi-interesting hook, it would sell. The problem with this approach? My heart wasn’t that into it.

The exact opposite happened with the short story. It appeared one night, fully formed, demanding to be written. I will probably not make much, if any, money off of it. But it’s pretty damn good. It’s heart is in the right place, because I put all of myself into it.