Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Musing Among Valley Vineyards

Creative Distancing
By Kelly Pollard

My husband and I have been taking our young sons (those tiny dots on the trail above) on short hikes around the foothills of our town. The first time I hiked Brushy Peak and looked down into the valley where our home hides among cloisters of sycamore trees and vineyards, I looked at my life in a whole new way. Viewed from above, our hometown was nothing like the suburban sprawl and everyday monotony that I lose my hours to. It was beautiful, art worthy.

Then, in the same time period, I approached my young adult manuscript as if from afar...or from the creative distance of many months since I sent it out on a round of submissions.

Oh, what a difference a bit of perspective makes on my creative life...

Unfortunately, rereading my novel did not rouse the same awe I felt for my hometown. The first fifty pages were as I remembered them. How many times had I workshopped them with my critique group or reread them before sending them out to potential agents? Too many to count.

Then, I read the rest of the manuscript. Many of the scenes were rushed. Characters barely sketched and the setting almost nonexistent. How did I think the book was ready to send out? There were even the little typos that slipped past my radar through the many drafts I worked through. As I read through the stack of paper, I constantly asked myself: how could I have believed this was ready? Would it be wildly inappropriate to beg the agents who have had my manuscript for a chance to resend before they even give me an answer? In some ways, I've had to sit on my hands in order not to shoot off some passionate emails.

What is so crazy about this experience of distance and time since working over the manuscript, was just how much I missed in drafts six through eight. When does it stop? How long are we writers expected to allow our drafts to simmer on the backburner? I'm going on close to four years working on this book. So here I find myself working on my last revision...again.

Kelly Pollard is a freelance writer and aspiring young adult novelist. Her two sons give her plenty of material to write about over at her blog. She is also the Newsletter Editor of the California Writers Club, Tri-Valley branch.

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