I have three words to describe the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop that I attended the first week of this month: informative, invaluable, and overwhelming.
I learned a lot, straight from the horse’s mouth. I got advice on writing and the submissions process from literary agents and editors. Now I feel a lot more prepared to send my work out, after meeting actual agents and hearing what they look for firsthand. I no longer feel like I will be submitting, completely cold, to faceless entities. I have seen and talked to agents, and I have a much better idea what to expect.
Also, in my critique groups, with four other writers, led by a faculty agent or editor, I got great advice on how to proceed with my revision process. I brought in my first draft for critique, and, boy, do I have some work to do. Even just reading aloud for the group, I could tell that I need to edit for pacing. i have a lot of cutting to do to up the tension and keep the action flowing.
Fortunately, I have room to cut. My manuscript is 88,500 words long, and it could be as short as 50,000 words.
Unfortunately, I have realized that writing might have been the easy part. Revision might be the real work. Reading back through my work, I still love my story, but now I need to tighten it up to make it more accessible.
I’d compare the revision process to hacking a path through the jungle. It’s hard to clear the way through the virgin forest armed with just a machete in hand. But when I am done, the way will be so much easier for future travelers, a.k.a. readers, to traverse. And, since they will have a cleared path, they will be able to enjoy the trip and appreciate the scenery (the story) rather than simply struggling to get through.
So I’m determined to hack my way through this first draft with my blade, to create something that readers can enjoy and a finished work I can be proud of. But it is going to be hard, mentally challenging work. Just hope I don’t encounter any poisonous snakes, ferocious tigers, or hungry tribes of cannibals, while carving my way through the first-draft jungle!