Ten years ago I put away a manuscript and the dream of getting a book I had written into the public eye. The book was inspired by my daughter when she was in sixth grade. Her class was given the assignment to write a story for a specific first grader. Older students were paired with a younger student, which I thought was a brilliant educational strategy. My daughter's imagination created Darcy and the Dancing Dewbabies, so I must give her credit. However, I took the concept and developed it into a 65,000-word manuscript as well as a screenplay.
A decade ago, I queried Michael Bourett, a literary agent who is now a partner at the Dystel, Goderich & Bourret agency in NYC. Michael took the time to call me in order to reject my project. He spent 20 minutes with me on the phone, which I found unusually kind and very encouraging.
Great potential, multi-generational material, keep at it, and keep me posted.
He actually compared me to Jan Karon, one of my favorite authors.
I'm a much better writer today than I was ten years ago. I believe that statement applies to all aspiring authors. With clarity and purpose, I can see (and have eliminated) the fluff. All the little darlin's that I inserted just because I thought they were brilliant at the time are gone. The story included details that would be considered dated. I am now able to revise those details to reflect a timeless story, a technique traditional publishers will appreciate.
The urge to revive Dewbabies came from a former student of mine who stated emphatically that this manuscript was the best thing I've ever written (although I'm guessing it was the only thing I've written and published that he's read). The point is, it was the story of Darcy's Dancing Dewbabies that he remembered ten years later.
Rewriting is Writing
Fortunately, I could not find a digital copy of the manuscript. However, I kept the printed version in a drawer, which has forced me to retype every single word. Some might find this task annoying, but I find it invigorating. I am forced to reconsider every word, every scene, and it has catapulted me into a writing frenzy. When I read what I've already written, I am so grateful that I'm able to rework the work.
NEW WORKING TITLE: The Emerging Science of Kindness
Then, there are times when I ask myself, why would an agent overlook the awkwardly bad parts and still think I had potential as a mainstream author of young adult or middle-grade fiction? The Dewbabies represent a huge chunk of my time and effort. As a published author and publisher of other people's books, I am compelled to finish what I started. Thanks to the encouragement from a literary agent and a former student, I'm happily revising a project that I hope will show readers that...