And as for the rest of the manuscript …. yikes. This 128,000+ monster needs work. Lots of work. So for now, I’m ranking it as okay … which is TOTALLY okay with me.
You see, I have issues with perfectionism, something my mother pointed out to me, (again,) last week. I mean, I’m fully aware that a rough draft is NOTHING like the finished product and any expectations of perfection at the beginning is a setup for failure. And as a plotter who never starts a novel without an outline, I also know that straying from any best-laid plan isn’t just normal … it’s needed after you get to know your characters and give them free will to tell their story the way they want to.
It’s the magic I worry about.
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Writing Beauty Shop for Rent, while frustrating at times, was such a joy. I adored the vivid, dynamic characters. I adored the charming beauty shop setting. I adored the endearing trope of creating your own family … a constant theme in my stories, it just felt magical. With all books, my own included, I can forgive predictable writing, I can forgive cliches as long as there’s MAGIC, as long as there are warm fuzzies that cling to my heart long after the final page is read.
When there’s not enough magic in a manuscript … I worry.
So while To The Beach and Back does have its moments, and there is potential, I’m ranking it as just okay.
Now, in the past, this is how my inner perfectionist would react …
… and the manuscript might be tossed aside in the edit one day but most likely not pile, along with my many others.
That was until I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s amazing book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
This has become a yearly must-read for me whenever I start to question my creativity and purpose … which is pretty often, so I need to write a full review. Until then, one of the most impactful parts was about Harper Lee who wrote nothing after the phenomenal success of To Kill a Mockingbird because in Lee’s words: “I’m scared. When you’re at the top, there’s only one way to go.”
Here’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s response:
I wish that Harper Lee had kept writing. I wish that, right after Mockingbird and her Pulitzer Prize, she had churned out five cheap and easy books in a row – a light romance, a police procedural, a children’s story, anything. … Imagine what she might have created, even accidentally, with such an approach. At the very least, she could have tricked everyone into forgetting that she’d once been Harper Lee.
Preach, girl, preach.
To be clear, Beauty Shop for Rent cannot compare in ANY WAY to the amazing To Kill A Mockingbird. But Elizabeth Gilbert is SO FREAKING RIGHT. Maybe Harper Lee wouldn’t have created another TKAM. Maybe she would have created something entirely different … and just as amazing, had she just given herself the gift of freedom to write an okay book.
So maybe I’m not creating the same kind of magic with my current WIP that I did with Beauty Shop for Rent.
Maybe, after everything is said and done, I’ll create a different kind of magic with To The Beach and Back. And if I don’t, this manuscript will have still served a very important purpose. I will keep me writing, keep me moving forward toward my dream of being a successful indie author by teaching me how to write the next book. So thank you, To The Beach and Beach, you gorgeously okay novel.
I’ll be back. 😉