A while back I’d been writing about The Hero’s Journey/Six Stage Plot Structure, equating it to my writing journey. I’d started off with a lofty goal – a post per week. Once I got a few writing contracts and real demands on my writing time in the form of deadlines surfaced, my time for blog posts grew limited. Now, while getting ready for my first book release, a Pre-Release for RETURN TO AUDUBON SPRINGS, it bothers me that I never wrapped up that journey. With only a few stages left, I’d like to take a stab at it. Since it’s been a while, here is a link back to the post that started it all. The Hero’s Journey Begins.
Turning Point #4 – MAJOR SETBACK
This is that point in the story where success seems impossible, the truth comes out, secrets previously kept are revealed. In short, in a Romance, this is where we bust out the box of tissues because our hero and heroine break up, or are separated and ALL IS LOST!
I’m all for the big dramatic major setback in a book or movie. Going back to my earlier reference of The Hunger Games, this is the moment when the Capital changes the rules and both Katniss and Peeta cannot win the games, or in Pride and Prejudice, just when it seems Elizabeth and Darcy are finally going to work things out, her sister brings disgrace to the family. Elizabeth voices this turning point perfectly, “I’ll never see him again.”
I’m having a hard time equating this to my writing journey, mostly because I need to decide which moment to choose! There have been multiple mini setbacks on the journey to publication – the agents or editors who seemed to love your work during the pitch phase, only to send a form rejection letter several months later. Even worse are the rejection messages expounding on the beauty in your prose only to go on to say…but it’s just not right for my current list. Those HURT!
I did have a moment of ALL IS LOST while working on my soon to be released RETURN TO AUDUBON SPRINGS that might be fun to share. My editor sent me what would be my LAST look before publication. During this Galley Proof stage, the author’s job is to make sure there are no errant commas or periods, and that the hero’s eyes didn’t miraculously change from blue to green three quarters of the way through the story. NO other changes can be made at this point. The text is AS IS. In my own mental defense, this ALL IS LOST moment was sponsored by exhaustion. I’d been hard at work editing SECONDHAND ROMANCE, book two of the Brothers of Audubon Springs series, and had just finished and sent book three to my editor for what I hope will result in a contract for THE RIGHT CHORD – brother number three’s story. I was tired but anxious to dive into this final task for book one. I started reading the manuscript late at night, and at about page three realized it was complete and utter CRAP. What followed was a mini breakdown and thoughts of contacting my editor to tell her a horrible mistake had been made and under NO circumstances could this book be published. I set the book aside and called it a night. In the morning, I picked the book up again expecting the same utter crap I’d read the previous night. To my pleasant surprise, I found myself reading the book I once loved. Would I still make changes to the opening section? YES! Will I ever be wholly satisfied with my work? NO!
What I’m discovering is that as writers, we are never going to be done with our work. Even when it’s published, in my mind it feels like the latest draft. Of course, I’m new, and I’m evolving. Eventually I’ll get my process down to a science and hopefully avoid these types of moments. I’m pretty sure my hubs saw horns growing out of my head and contemplated medication or a trip to the ER for a padded room. Regardless, I got through my MAJOR SETBACK. Onward to other publishing challenges. I’m learning there are many!
I’ll take a look at some of those other challenges next week, among them marketing. This reminds me, I’ve spent a bit of time in the past month or so updating the look of my website. Please let me know what you think!