04 September 2007

Can This Book Be Saved?

A couple weeks ago, my 5 year old gave herself a new haircut. It was an hour before we were due to attend a dinner party, and forty-eight hours before her first day of kindergarden. Needless to say, I was taken aback. Not because the fine, short bob she'd worn since she was 2 looked like something out of a science fiction flick, but because she'd played with very sharp hair-cutting scissors...near her face! After extracting her promise to never, never touch Mommy's Sharp Scissors again (except to take them away from the baby, if the baby happened to get her hands on them), I considered what to do about the hair.

It all started because she was annoyed with the bangs. So she "revised" them -- cut off a chunk close to the scalp. Part of the bangs hung down to her eyebrows and part...did not. Then she started on the sides, giving herself a lopsided mini-mullet it still pains me to recall. Luckily I caught her before she started on the back. I made an appointment with my hairdresser as soon as possible, wondering what in the world she could do to blend the slices and dices my daughter had begun. Could this haircut be saved, I wondered, or were we going to have to chop it off and start over, a possibility my daughter protested with loud and piercing vigor?

I have a book right now that's received some conflicting revision advice from various people who've seen it. My editor says one thing, my agent another, and previous editors and agents said third, fourth and fifth things. My critique partners (who must be insane) think it's decent as-is. In a lovely bit of publishing evil, no two pieces of advice have been the same. Not one to fear drastic changes of appearance, I have enacted slices and dices on this manuscript in the past, but it doesn't seem to have that certain charm that transforms it from mere hair into a truly stylin' haircut.

As with my kid's stubby bangs and mini-mullet, there seem to be several routes I can take to remedy this. Several things I can try, but none of them certain. I know I need to do something. Unlike hair, books don't "grow out". I'm a beautician of books, but this crazed hack job by a 5 year old is baffling my mad skillz.

What do you do in situations like this? Let's complicate matters -- assume you have limited time for the next couple years, so your efforts toward career sustenance need to be effective, efficient and powerful. Tinkering with possibilities "just to see how it turns out" take up space you could otherwise use to monitor children with scissors. Do you go for the shortest and sassiest possible style (the biggest and most challenging revisions)? Do you choose the easiest route and hope it covers the flaws? Do you put on a hat and direct your energies into a new and possibly better book??

On one hand, my writer's ego protests shelving manuscripts that elicited editorial interest, albeit with caveats, with loud and piercing vigor. (Yes, my daughter takes after me.)

On the other hand -- I like hats.

Jody W.
So many hats, so little time!
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com/
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