A year ago, I pulled a novel draft out of a drawer and began retooling it. Blood and Loam, as I call it, tells the story of a confused, dysfunctional young woman who must find her inner strength to save a small farming community from a villainous “land vampire.” The idea has haunted me for years, and I am pleased to have finally found the path of the story.
Writing this novel has been a real education on what not to do, and even after a year of dedicated, hard work, the story still has problems. Part of me has wanted to put the story back in the drawer and write it off as my “practice novel.” It may still end up that way, but I’ve had enough good feedback on the story to not give up just yet.
Earlier in the year I submitted the first few chapters for critique in a novel writing class. I also submitted the first ten pages to a contest. In both cases, I received helpful feedback. Problem is, the story careens off track later on, in places no one has yet seen. I have bumped up against my limitations as a fiction writer, and I realize that I need help to take it to its next level…help that will allow me not only to improve my skills with this story, but also to make writing the next novels (I have three more ideas so far) easier, faster, and better.
This week I took the brave step of hiring a freelancer to provide a manuscript evaluation. I went through Elance, and I was impressed to find several bidders with impressive qualifications, including published and well-reviewed books of their own. It was tough to make the final choice. The woman who won the bid not only is a published author, but also has a mental health background, which I thought would be a great bonus for the psychological elements in the story. In about two weeks, I hopefully will have some guidance on what to do with my story.
I had mixed feelings about taking this approach, but seeing the quality of some of the bidders has changed my mind. I’ll pass along the results of this venture once I get them, and we’ll see if it was worthwhile, but in the meantime, I feel like I have taken a positive step with my writing. Stay tuned!