Home from the ACFW conference this week, free to process what I heard and what I learned.
I don't usually share sorrows. But I'm in a heavy mood over this one. It's nothing serious -- my loved ones are in health and I've really nothing to complain over. But my dear-to-the-heart 973 Wales book is not going forward in its present form. The story I wanted to tell is not the story the publishers want.
I heard similar things from two editors. The summary I presented on the one sheet caused pursed lips and raised brows. I explained that my plot points were true to their time, but heard, "Yes, I'm sure they are, but our readers will not accept them."
Point: though young women often were given in marriage in their mid-teens, my heroine cannot be in her mid-teens. She has to be older. Readers will not accept a main character who's considered a grown woman and ready for marriage at 15.
Point: my girl's true love and her husband have to be the same person. The readers will not accept that she loves one man and must marry another for political reasons. This, too, was true to the age, but the readers will not accept it.
Get the drift? The story I wanted to tell, how a woman can triumph over stiff odds, can come to love the quest for peace, can come to terms with an unwanted husband...all that must be taken out.
The more outspoken of us Christian fic writers talk about "the box." This far and no further. Write this and not that. Show these characters and delete these others. Deal with these themes and not those. Some of us would love to kick the sides out of the box, and some, including people I'm proud to call friends, have kicked the sides with some success. I honor them for it.
But not this story, and not at this time. Back in the box, PEACEWEAVER. The readers don't want you. Or so I'm told. To pitch this project (hopefully with some success), I'm selling out to The Box. I'm gutting my story.
I feel sad about doing this. What will be left (and I'm 40 pages in to the rewrites) will not be the story I wanted to tell. It may be something more banal, something perhaps less interesting, something I might not want to read were it for sale in a store. I hope as I overtype my original manuscript that it will be a better book than its predecessor, but hoping is all I can do until I see what it becomes.
Many factors in this writing/publishing life are beyond my control. My story and how I tell it are the only things I can control. Heaven knows I'm trying for quality.
I'm not complaining that the market is as it is. My wail is over the fact that it cannot be allowed to spread to cover a little wider span.