Yesterday was a very low day for me. I got a long awaited email from my agent about a book of mine she'd been reading. This was my most recent book and therefore the one I am the most in love with right now. It was the one that was going to get me published and be awesome. Well, guess what? She didn't like it very much. This in and of itself is a good excuse for being bummed, but what got me down even more was the reason she didn't like it. She said she didn't like the narrative voice because I was telling too much instead of showing.
WHAT??? That's like writing 101. That's something I had never had much of a problem with even when I first started writing. I was telling instead of showing? It shocked and embarrassed me. Plus, it wasn't something I could easily fix. It wasn't a plot hole I could patch up or a scene that didn't make sense. This was major. In my mind it meant a total rewrite. I was sooooo depressed. So what did I do? Well, after pouting for a while, I marched to my kids' bathroom.
Why? you ask. A few days ago my son had flushed a bar of soap down the toilet and it was clogged. My husband had been bugging me to call the maintenance guy (because it was really stuck), but I had been resisting. I didn't want to call the maintenance guy, I was embarrassed. Last year he had replaced two toilets and had subsequently been back to unclog them not once, but twice because of this same issue (not a bar of soap, but other items flushed by the boy). I didn't want him looking at me and saying: Why haven't you gotten toilet locks or locked your bathroom doors. I didn't want to have to explain to him it was because we were potty training now and I had to leave toilets open for the potty emergencies.
So anyway, I marched into the bathroom because I needed to unclog that toilet. I needed to have a feeling of success for the day because I was feeling so crappy. I must've spent thirty minutes in there with that stupid toilet snake and that stupid plunger. All for nothing.
I threw myself onto my bed. "I can't write a book or unclog a stupid toilet!" I whined. I think my husband thought I was nuts.
When I got over feeling sorry for myself, a thought came to me. I needed to highlight my entire book into sections. Green for dialogue, Gray for action, Purple for inner thoughts, Yellow for description, and Teal for narrative. It gave me a purpose. I sat down, determined. I reached page 120 last night (highlighting an entire book is a lot of work). And guess what I discovered? The teal sections need to go. They are the sections where I am "telling" the reader about my world. I need to either change them into dialogue scenes where I convey the same information or I need to cut them altogether. I also realized I can reduce the purple sections as well. My favorite sections were the gray and green. I wouldn't have to rewrite my entire book after all. It's still good. I still love my book. This edit is only going to make it stronger.
I was so happy and rejuvenated when I woke up this morning that I thought maybe I'd give the toilet another go. I wound that metal snake down there with confidence and determination. And I unclogged it! An entire bar of soap was yanked from the clutches of the toilet by the toilet snake. An entire bar of soap. So I can write a book and unclog a toilet! Wahoo!
Back to editing for me. This highlighting is so eye opening that I might start doing it for all my books. (by the way, my agent rocks!)