In trying to find a way to express my feelings about this, I turned on Pandora and opened a blank page, and lo-and-behold, the Harry Potter soundtrack came on. The little children's choir started to sing "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and I thought... that's it!! That's the perfect sentiment for what I've been feeling lately about this monster of a writing project.
Part of the Genesis and Touched-by-Love recommendations (even in the midst of great praise) was that my story starts in the wrong place. Too slowly do I get to the meat of the story, or the meet of the story, to be exact.
In the guise of the literary fiction I'm used to writing, I took my sweet time writing the lead-up to the meet-cute. (I hate it when people say "cute-meet", by the way. The phrase is an old screenwriting term, and it's meet-cute. Sorry, all my frustrations are just boiling out at once... I apologize. Say it however you want.) Thirty pages later, still no meet-cute. In fact, I was twittering about it like crazy when I finally got to it, on page 45!! And then I finally bit the bullet and wrote the meet-cute, and then it was fine. I went about my merry way and wrote a nearly the rest of the book.
Well, after the Genesis feedback came back (they only got the first 15 pages), I only had two days to revise before I had to get it to the judges, so that's what I did. I started the story about twenty pages in, cut about fifteen pages on the other side, and got my hero and heroine together on page 7. Much better, right?
That 45 pages of stuff (well, perhaps 22 pages out of the 45) were important. They weren't backstory. I talked with my critique partners extensively about this and they agreed with me. Yes, they thought, the pages I'd already written were critical to the story, but yes, h/h needed to meet quicker. So I've been busy devising a plan about how to make that happen.
Then the Touched-by-Love entries came back. These judges got the first 30 pages. I had two judges who loved the entry, and one judge who hated it. H-a-t-e-d. She said it wasn't even really romance. That was hard to hear, at first. But when I took a step back from feeling completely bashed by the comments, I could completely see her point. The entire entry she read, my hero and heroine were apart. That's not romantic. That's why SH/LI likes their h/h to meet on the first page. They want the romance to draw you in. And if I want to ever have a chance to write SH/LI, I have to learn to do what they ask me to do.
So now my quandary is this: I've spent a bunch of time re-working my first chapter. But in order to do that, I've had to cut at least 50% of my current ms. Which means that I have to re-plot the entire book. And that re-plotting has caused me to go back to the drawing board on my characters. Which then caused me to go back to the drawing board on my plot. Which caused me to re-think my characters. Which changed the plot. You get my drift?
At this point, the plot is completely different than it was before, but not really. It's still the same basic storyline, but the way that story unfolds is different. The characters are deeper, but different. But the same. It's really hard to explain.
What's become very clear to me is I'm getting stalled in all this change. I had such a clear idea of where I was going. And now I don't. And the wicked thing that is coming is the rewriting. That is the monster I'm dreading. Because I liked where my old novel was. I liked where it began (which, since then, has finaled in a Page-One contest), I liked the middle. I liked the end. It wasn't too complex. It wasn't un-complex. It was just right. And now I feel like I'm writing a different book.
But it really can't be helped. Taking out the first 45 pages makes the structure all wrong to just "add length" in the middle somewhere. That wouldn't have worked. I needed to begin a certain way, which meant that my heroine's circumstances had to change a little bit. And now I'm down to only about 10,000 completed words that are going to stay. So instead of being almost complete, I now have 40,000 words left.
It just makes me sad. And I think I needed to admit that, and sort of get mad about it, and now move past it. Because if I don't get the book finished, none of this will matter at all.
So I'm off to do some writing. Thanks for listening to my catharsis.