Last year I went to SCBWIs winter conference in NYC and while I was there I had my first 500 words of THE NEWSTEAD PROJECT critiqued by two editors, both from big six publishing houses. Before I went I must’ve written and re-written those first two pages more than a hundred times. In the beginning I relied heavily on my husband, which was a very bad idea. For those of you who don’t know, my husband is a brilliant man who does lots of non-fiction technical type writing for the Navy Nuclear Industry and when he reads for pleasure it’s always something nonfiction about some war in the last century. So when I handed him my first two pages of my YA thriller all he could say was that it was good, but it had a lot of bad grammar stuck in incomplete sentences. Needless to say I was more than crushed, I was paralyzed.
Going to NY did that to me, too. Not that the editors were harsh, they weren’t. It’s just that because of my fears and constant revisions, my first 500 words didn’t match the rest of the book at all. They were sterile and vanilla, but they were written in perfect grammar and without a fragment to be found. In short the voice was gone.
The first 500 words were my first chance to introduce the reader to Joel, my MC that I love so much and he wasn’t there. Nothing was.
The reason I write this is because on Friday I sat down with a list of edits from my copyeditor for those same 500 words and for the first time in two years it feels like the rest of the book.
Have any of the rest of you had a hang up like that?