“I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, a little better all the time.”
Every time I finish a round of editing on my novel manuscript I think something along the lines of, “Cripes, it’s so much better now.” This has happened about fifteen or sixteen times and it makes me afraid of how crappy the first drafts must have been.
Many of the major structural changes my MS has undergone has been the result of interaction with other writers, particularly through feedback from good beta readers, and by beta reading for others (when I notice mistakes in their MSS, I sometimes realize I’ve made the same mistakes in my own).
Currently, I’m two-thirds done with leaving another mess on the cutting room floor. Yeah—I’m making substantial structural edits though, just a week or two ago, I was sure I was ready for the copy editing phase.
A leopard can’t change its spots, but it’s okay because it was sexy to begin with.
I’ve recently come to accept that there are core aspects of my MS which makes it difficult to successfully pitch to an agent or major trade publisher (i.e., the parts that bars the MS from being “high concept”). To borrow some words from Catherine Czerkawska, my MS might be “too readable to be literary but too quirky to be easily marketed.” If that’s true, even if my writing was superb in certain aspects (and I’m not claiming it is), the Big Five (and, thus, many agents) would be unlikely to pick it up.
It’s quite an undertaking to force something to be super mainstream-friendly when you wrote the first drafts without that intent. While I think I’ve made some strides in getting my novel to be more high concept-y, I don’t think I can get it completely there without cutting out the heart of the work.
So, I’ve been reading more about small presses and doing all I can to make sure my novel is polished in case I go the super-indie route (still may send out a few more agent queries before I submit to small presses, though).