No When To Hold ‘Em

This is a post about knowing when to hold ‘em, not when to fold ‘em. About the glass being half full, not half empty. Mostly it’s about a writer’s perseverance and not giving up on a manuscript you believe in.

I just turned in the final, fully edited manuscript yesterday that had been six years in the making. When I first wrote it, I thought I had a masterpiece on my hands. I patted myself on the back for a job well done and sent it to my agent and editor at the time. Boy, was I shocked when both hated the subplot of a cultist group holding the main character hostage.

I wondered how anyone could hate such a delicious idea. But they did and there was no changing their minds. It took me another reading before I realized that they were right, and that the subplot didn’t work in this context. It was a bit silly and over-the-top. So what to do with it?

It went into the trash.

I still loved the main story and felt the bones of this novel were good. It would have been easy to stick it in a shelf and leave it there, and move onto other story ideas. But I couldn’t let this book go. It stuck in my craw. The characters whispered for me to get back to them.

After taking some time off from the novel, I rewrote it. And rewrote it. And rewrote it again. Things still didn’t seem copacetic about the new subplot I’d come up with. So I worked on it some more. Let it sit. Did another complete edit months later. Now what?

After years passed, and believing it to the best novel it could be (which is how I felt at the time about the first version), I sent it to my agent. To my surprise, he loved the new subplot. It worked beautifully in the main story. My agent loving if meant partial validation. Now we had to find a publisher who loved it as much as we did.

To our surprise, the first publisher shared our love for the book and snatched it up before anyone else did. Two weeks ago I received my edits back and realized I had some minor issues with this subplot, but nothing I could not easily fix. So I put everything else aside and did another rewrite, although this one was not anywhere near as drastic as the last. My editors suggestions were fantastic and exactly what this manuscript needed to make it fully viable. After an arduous two weeks, I turned it in yesterday, and look forward to finally seeing this book get published. Hopefully, the cover art will come out soon, and it publishes in late October.

There are many manuscripts I wrote where I knew when to fold ‘em. This one, however, was the one I just had to hold. And I’m glad I did. I’m glad I persevered and kept at it, always believing that this story was good enough to get published. Being stubborn, and never giving up, is often what separates the published author from the unpublished. I was like a pit bull with this manuscript, never letting go of it.

I’ll have more details about the novel at a later date. Suffice to say, don’t ever give up on an idea you fully believe in. Who knows, someday it might even get published.

Happy writing and reading, folks!

About joesouza

I am a writer of crime novels
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7 Responses to No When To Hold ‘Em

  1. matthewcost says:

    Congratulations Joe! That is awesome and a story we all need at one time or another to persevere. Just say ‘NO’ to folding them.

  2. dickcass says:

    Excellent, Joe! Congrats!

  3. Kate Flora says:

    Having just published a book with twelve years of those iterations, I applaud you. In the end, we have to believe in our stories even as we strive to make them better.

  4. John Clark says:

    Great story of perseverance.

  5. John Greco says:

    Looking forward to it Joe!

  6. Kaitlyn Dunnett says:

    I love stories like this. Sometimes it pays to be stubborn!

  7. Sandra Neily says:

    Inspirational!! Thank YOU….and waiting for it now….

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