The Eighth

The original format for The Gardener was journalistic. When I received a comment from a literary agent who said that the idea was marketable but not the format, I immediately sat down and rewrote the entire book. I resubmitted it to the same literary agent who, within three days, rejected it completely.

Before I started this project, I had no idea why he didn’t like the revision. I thought it was excellent. But there were three things I did not consider that all of you have pointed out to me through the surveys:

1. I did not have a setting to create the mood for the audience;

2. I used formal speech and writing that is not popular in today’s fiction;


The meat of the book, the very essence of what thrills me about the subject, is found somewhere after chapter 4.

I have to reconstruct those first four chapters. I have to.

This reminds me of knitting a wooly scarf while watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy: I have a lot of passion for both knitting and the trilogy but one with the other is complete destruction. After the 50th row of yarn and needles (approximately when Frodo Baggins approaches the innkeeper at The Prancing Pony as Mr. Underhill), I’ve dropped a stitch and somewhere between row 25 and 26, I also have one stitch less. The borders are sloppy, there’s a hole where the stitch was dropped, and I know, with all my knitting heart, that I have to undo the entire scarf in order to fix it. I also need to turn off the trilogy if I hope to have a completed scarf within a reasonable amount of time.

So what should I turn off in order to reconstruct the first four chapters?

Three things.

1. My inner nervousness to please the masses. I need to write, to write well, but while writing, not worry if it will be enough;

2. My coffee-pot. I’ve been known to burn an entire batch of coffee while immersed in writing. I’m not drinking coffee lately but my husband is and that means I have to be extra vigilant about such details;

and, 3. Switch off those old stories I admire that are long-winded and full of beautiful passages: The Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Beowulf, The Faerie Queen…so many stories that are colorful and descriptive and long past their expiration date.

I must express, in so many words, my delight and belief in the main character so that you will love her, fight for her, and clamor for more when the chapters draw to a close.

When I wrote The Gardener, I cheered for the innocent and loathed the wicked–it is my job to find that voice in the first four chapters.

By doing so, I just might find an audience.

Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 5:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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