“Put it on the shelf and forget about it.”
This was the advice of the many battle-scarred veterans to the question, “what do I do with it when I’m done?”
Contrarian that I am, I decided to listen anyway. I finished Small Fish in September, fiddled with it a tiny bit through October and left it alone. I sent it off to Christine Witthohn (Book Cents Literary) in December, hoping at best to get a ream of comments along with my rejection. Alas, she said she wanted to represent it, and had only a few suggestions, general instructions, really, for the changes she wanted. “Move the action up front,” she instructed.
Great. No laundry list?
It turns out none was required. During the intervening 5 months, the manuscript might have been sitting on the shelf, but it was far from dormant in my mind. I began to see in the plot where things needed to be amped up, moved forward, moved back. I saw missed opportunities or some that were just squandered. I saw little things and big things – all without laying an eye on a page. It was all just ruminating in that tiny space between my ears. I woke up some nights and thought about it. I drove my car without music (a very odd thing for me).
And now I know exactly what I want to do with the rewrites. I’m ready to carve that thing up like a Christmas ham.
So do put it on the shelf. It’s astounding how much good settles on it with the dust.
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