Trying NOT to Kill Our Darlings


One night, when I was about twelve-years-old, my sisters and I watched Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. We huddled together under blankets, ready to cover our eyes when the scary parts came on.

Then our mother came into the room. “Oh, Abbott and Costello,” she said, “I always loved them. They’re so funny.”

We looked at each other. Funny? We lowered our blankets.

That’s right, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was a comedy. We went into it thinking Horror.

That, I think, is a big problem with my middle grade novel Alex Bullied. Readers go into it thinking it’s a story about the horrors of bullying but what I intended to create is a comedy. Bullying is horrible and this book reflects that too. But I don’t know if readers are getting it.

When I conceived it, Alex Bullied was meant to be a silly, funny, Abbott and Costello book about a bully who learns when it’s like to be bullied. It was meant to be Revenge of the Nerds for the middle school set. It was not meant to be a serious look at bullying. There are plenty of books for that. I hate bullies as much as the next person, but it is not my platform. My platform, I like to think, is that of storyteller, creator, writer.

I’m done with making excuses, whining and bitching about this book. I know how hard I worked to make it great, not just good. Maybe, ultimately, I don’t have what it takes, but I tried. I read a lot — novels, both middle grade and adult, and how-to books — attend two critique groups, and I am Hospitality Coordinator for the local chapter of SCBWI, through which I attend workshops and conferences. I used a professional editor.

I guess this one got away from me. Honestly, I don’t know what went wrong.

Hopefully I have learned from this experience. My next one will be better. MY husband recently shared that he’d been reminded of the Ten Thousand Hour Theory. Many successful people agree that it takes 10,000 hours to become great at whatever you’re striving to do.

And wasn’t it Thomas Edison who said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

When I began this blog it was to be a journal of sorts of my process getting this book published. I was filled with faith and optimism. I honestly thought this one would go the distance and I tend to be cautious and painfully objective. I’ve been knocked around a bit since then.

I still think, if the right person reads it, it could make it. I will stand by it for another round of queries. Each of my books, and I’m sure yours, are their own entities. In that way they are like our children, our darlings. It’s hard to watch the creation we have poured our hearts and minds into, go through the torment of growing pains and rejection.

I’ve decided I will write for the next year or so, and not focus so much on querying or what others think. I will write for the fun, the joy and the challenge. Write for my number one reader, Me. And while I’m doing this I will make these stories the best yet.

So that’s the plan and I’m excited about it. I am glad to be posting in this blog again. I will continue on towards publication. And I’ll let you know how it is, every agonizing step of the way.

Stay tuned.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein Clip



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