Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March Theme: The Higher Power of Luck(y) (Lisa Graff)

This month we're talking about luck, and in general I like to think that I'm a pretty darn lucky person. I get to do what I love, and I get paid for it. Win-win! But for the purposes of this post, I wanted to write about a time when, career-wise, I was feeling not so lucky. So here's one:

A few years ago, after I had successfully published three middle-grade novels and was feeling pretty good about myself as a writer, I came up with what I was POSITIVE was going to be my next big idea. I spent months researching the project. I had an entire folder full of notes. And I wrote up the first fifty pages, and sent them to my agent.

He did not like them.

I was, as you can imagine, pretty down in the dumps about that. I LOVED my idea, and I thought it was going to make for an incredible novel. But I trusted my agent quite a bit (still do!), so I went back and read what I'd given him.

I didn't like it either.

There were some good ideas in there, but it wasn't a story. For various reasons, it lacked the spark of the books I'd worked on in the past. And while I was certain (and my agent assured me), that all the things that weren't working in it were fixable, it was a long, long way from being a novel-ready idea. And so, with a bit of huffing and puffing, I moved on to something else.

I went on to write two novels which I am extremely proud of, and then a third (A TANGLE OF KNOTS, which comes out in Spring 2013), with a subplot lifted from that long-ago discarded novel. And I couldn't be happier with those books. The point is, sometimes the very best thing to do is to stick with a project until you can pound it into shape . . . and sometimes you just need to let it go. It's hard to know which way to go most of the time, but I feel very lucky that I have smart people in my life who will tell me the truth, and let me know when they think what I write simply stinks (but who say it much more kindly than that, of course).

4 comments:

  1. You made your own luck, Lisa! You were smart enough to choose good people to work with, and also to know when to cut your losses. Congratulations on finding a new home for at least the subplot of that project!

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  2. Thanks for the great insight - it's a wonderful post. Congratulations on your upcoming novel!

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  3. I betcha that initial idea may very well become a published book, too...(Sometimes, ideas just need lots of time to germinate.)

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  4. Thanks, guys! And Holly, I totally agree about germination. Sometimes an idea needs to sit for a looooong time before it's ready to turn into something.

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