Today we have a guest blogger. Please welcome novelist D.V. Stone. Her new novel, Jazz House, will be published in 2021.
D.V. has dabbled in many genres and published a slew of books. She’s got good advice including some seasonally appropriate editorial wisdom learned from a holly bush.
I’m what is referred to as a ‘Hybrid’ author. This means my books are both traditionally and independently published. I’ve published work across multiple genres. But whatever story I’m telling, my goal is always the same: to bring hope to the reader.
The authors and genres I’ve enjoyed over the years have, by turn, made me laugh or cry, or pushed me to the edge of my seat. In this spirit, I hope to do the same. I want my readers to sit and laugh, cry, scream, or just quietly contemplate.
So, what have I learned about writing and publishing over the years?
- Perseverance and patience are critical. People ask all the time, “When is your book coming out?” Writing is a long process for me. I still work full-time outside the home in a medical office. There is a countdown app in my phone ticking off the days until retirement. I have so many ideas and parts of manuscripts waiting—especially one, in particular, begging me to finish.
- Disappointment and rejection happen. The submission process can be a blow to your ego. You start out with stars in your eyes because you think you have something great. Then the first rejection comes. Then the second. And so on. You’ve got to learn to roll with it. It’s all part of the process.
- Criticism and critique are important. Learn what you can from criticism and let the rest go. Don’t be a mule. If multiple people tell you the same thing about a sentence, structure, plot hole, or point of view issue, take a step back and really look at what you’ve got.
- Editing and change are often frustrating and tedious, but they either make or break your book. There is so much to learn/know. Sometimes painful decisions need to be made. Characters you love may need to change. Sometimes vastly. Whole sections may need to be eliminated.
I love sharing this story about my husband, Pete. It’s an apt metaphor for the editing and publishing process.
Pete has a love-hate relationship with a holly bush in front of our house. For years he’s tried trimming it to keep it under control, but the bush seems to have a will of its own. One day Pete had had enough. Grabbing a saw, he dropped to the ground and cut it down.
Funny thing, a couple of weeks later, green started sprouting from the stump.
Editing a novel is like pruning a tree or a bush. In that initial rush of emotion, words pour over the page. Cohesion and logic take a back seat to growth. But once you take a step back, the delete key becomes your surgical scalpel, and critique partners, your nurses.
Sometimes my work is overwrought, and drastic steps need to be taken. Characters and scenes become casualties of the delete button. But the good thing is, if you have interesting characters, and are willing to listen and make the tough choices, your work can bloom beautifully.
Pete now carefully trims the bush to keep it from becoming the overpowering entity it once was. Not only is the holly healthier, so are the plants around it.