I'm excited!

I have to talk about this and I think I have probably posted enough Facebook status updates on the subject.

When my editor initially suggested I eliminate thousands of words from my book, I felt overwhelmed. He thought my story was interesting. He said my manuscript was in good shape for a first time author. However, he said that "today's reader" is less likely to pick up a thick book.

My first manuscript was over 127,000 words. Less than 100,000 would be ideal, but he thought I could possibly shave 20,000 simply by "tightening up" each chapter and that might be enough. So I went to work. I reminded myself that he knows what he's talking about.

I explained to him that I wasn't trying to write a best seller. I have a mission for this book, which is more important to me than extensive readership or sales. I do not want to compromise the content, but I also want to be open to his expertise and advice.

It's funny. My first reaction to a challenge is to feel overwhelmed and think, "I can't do it." In the end, I am actually pretty adaptable to change and compromise. I just have to get that first reaction behind me and then adjust my attitude. I can't tell you how many times, in the process of writing, I have wanted to give up for various reasons.

However, I remember when I started college and wanted to give up every time I tried to learn algebra. It was the most frustrating subject I had to learn and I did not think I could rise to the challenge, but I knew I had to do it to get a degree. I will never enjoy--or be great at--math. (You can't imagine how tough it was for me if math comes naturally for you.) I learned a more important lesson through basic algebra, though. I can do what I set my mind to if I want to badly enough. Going to school in my forties taught me that I can do a lot of things I don't think I can do. Nothing proved that to me more than algebra.

When the editor told me how much I needed to cut from the book, I initially wanted to throw up my hands and say, "Then maybe I won't even write it." I guess I did say it, because John's response was, "You have ALREADY written it. You'll figure it out." He was right. As of this morning, I am now halfway through the book and I have eliminated over 11,000 expendable words! I feel like I need to throw a party!

When I began writing this book, I was writing it to help others. You will understand that more fully when you read the book. I have read random chapters to several people and the response has repeatedly been, "This is different than I expected." At some point, I may even post the introduction on my blog to help convey the purpose of the book in case you're interested. However, as I have gone through the writing process, it's become obvious to me that God has used it for my own healing and transformation. Therefore, this book has come to mean a lot to me in different ways. I can hardly wait to have it in print. All anxiety about publishing it is gone. And in the beginning, I contended with chronic anxiety as far as other people's responses.

I know there will be those who criticize me for writing it and say hurtful things about my motive. I think I have reached a place of genuine acceptance as far as that goes. That doesn't mean misjudgments won't still hurt me. I just expect that to happen and trust God to get me through the pain. I will not be deterred by it.

Anyway, I'm excited about my progress this morning. The people I look forward to reading it most of all are you, my dearest friends.


Robin Hanloh said…
Congratulations, Shari! I can only imagine how difficult any suggestions would be for such a personal story but you handled the initial ones with humility, grace and objectivity. I had no doubt you would do the same with the editor.
Shari said…
Thank you, Robin! I'm so glad I decided to ask for your feedback in the process. There were several areas where your insight was simply invaluable to me. I was blessed to get different kinds of feedback and insight from many different perspectives, but you were the only one of my readers who shared my background.

I treasure your friendship and sharing this journey with you has only enhanced our closeness.

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