Take the Hint

I used to have a boss who felt that the universe gave him messages about his life. He was constantly saying things like, “I’ve run into three people lately who have problems with alcohol. I think that the universe is trying to tell me something.” He would then lay off drinking for a week or two, until the universe told him to do something different.

If I were him, I would think that the universe is trying to tell ME something right now.

My manuscript, Jim and Jack, was originally literary fiction, but thanks to a lot of online advice, I have reluctantly morphed it into something more commercial. Although the story is definitely more streamlined, it is no longer the relaxing summer’s day that it was, and I don’t think that it’s as good in many ways. A few things have improved, such as the action starting earlier, but overall, it sounds just like everybody else’s “voice” these days. This has bothered me so much that I’ve even stopped querying, paralyzed about which version to send if I get another request.

Until this week. My author-hero Ty Roth posted about this very topic. So did literary agent Rachelle Gardner. Victoria Mixon had a superb (and I NEVER use that word) post about young adult literature and how all of the edgy/disturbing YA stuff isn’t healthy for kids, and when I left a comment, she replied with, “Layinda, aim for your star. Forget the nay-sayers. Nobody knows what’s going to sell, only that trends are started by people with the guts to go where no one else is going. “We are the makers of manners, Kate.”—Henry V

Now, I don’t think that the universe tells anybody anything, but these posts have resonated with me, and my mind is made up. I am going back to the original version, and I will let the professionals decide whether my manuscript is any good or not. From what I understand, there are always rewrites anyway. 

If you missed any of these excellent posts, here are the links:

Ty Roth:

Rachelle Gardner:

Victoria Mixon: http://www.victoriamixon.com/advice/2010/06/14/honestly-or-sensationally-addressing-ya-taboos/comment-page-1/#comment-143



Filed under Critical Thinking, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized, Writing

8 responses to “Take the Hint

  1. Sounds like great advice to follow. Thanks for the links too. Have a great weekend!

  2. Layinda, I am one who says write from your heart, write what you want, and write with your own voice. I love the response you got and I agree completely. This is one reason I carefully chose who beta read my work. Only you know your story and how you intended it to be, so trust yourself, and trust your voice. 🙂

  3. Great advice. Writing what you love is why we started writing in the first place. I say go with your heart and see what happens. Good luck!

  4. Absolutely go with your instinct. If you care much more deeply about the original, then that’s the one you have to use.

  5. You’re far too kind, but thanks. You have no idea how grateful I am for your kind words and support. For any writer as talented, hard-working, and professional as you have proven yourself to be, it can only be a matter of time. Keep the faith (in yourself!).

  6. Layinda, you won! Check my website for what to do next. 🙂

  7. Layinda,

    Shine from within yourself. If the second version is not the story you want to tell, is not the book you will be proud to have your name on, then do not send it.

    The beauty of writing is that you alone get to decide what you want to say. Agents and editors can help hone your story, but nobody should ever change it into something that isn’t yours.

    Best luck and don’t stay paralyzed for too long. Agents can’t accept a manuscript if it isn’t on their desks.

    hugs~ cat

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