To my great surprise and delight, she liked the changes I’d made and offered me a contract. What a relief! But to me, the greatest surprise was that aside from the help I received from my editor, I was able to complete the revisions my own.
I know that sounds strange. Writing is, after all, a very solitary pursuit. We're supposed to do this on our own. But I’ve relied a lot on critique partners and writing friends for advice. And I’ve received so much solid help over the years, to the point where I sometimes wondered if I could write a book on my own. I honestly don’t think I could have been published without a little help from my friends.
But this past month has taught me that I can trust the voice in my head, the one I too often ignore, the one that says things like ‘This section doesn’t work’ or ‘She needs more motivation for her actions’. In a lot of cases, if something isn’t working, I actually do recognize it, and if I listen hard enough I can figure out what to do to fix it.
I found I’m not alone in recognizing this. Romantic suspense writer Leslie Tentler, whose debut novel “Midnight Caller” was released in January 2011 by Mira Books, says that she realizes she might have to go it alone more often from now on:
“Writing is solitary, something that increases once you become published. Writing my first book, I had the luxury of time and the constant feedback and support of a critique partner and writer’s group. I had the time to enter contests. All of this builds your confidence as a writer. Now, I have to work much faster which means I have less time to have others assess my work. I’ve had to learn to edit myself harder knowing that fewer eyes will be on it before it goes to my editor. “
In the January 2011 edition of Romance Writer Report, former Silhouette Senior Editor Valerie Hayward says the writers she’s worked with who have met their publishing goals have “learned to trust themselves as writers. That trust is what allows a writer’s unique voice to emerge. And voice is what editors are looking for.”
Going it alone can be scary. And confusing. I’ve been in the situation (many times) where my story can go in one of several directions. Which way do I turn? What is my story about, really? How do I get my message across to readers?