Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What To Do With Rotting Onions?

When the onions in my vegetable bin started to go soft I either whirled them in my garbage disposal or consigned them to my worm bin for composting.  Then one year when the garbage disposal seized up and my worm bin needed attention, but no more food scraps I simply dug holes in my garden and buried those rotting onions.  Here's what happened in June.

 Some fairly impressive live SCULPTURES, right?

Meanwhile back at the desk, I had this manuscript that had gone a bit soft as well. What I usually did when I came up against a rotting manuscript was this:

Shred it.
Hide it at the back of the closet.
And my all time favorite . . . start a new story.

This time I chose a different approach. I re-visited that initial idea by reading my notes very carefully, especially the "elevator pitch" sentence. Here's what I found: The Edmunds family, Carlie, Keith, and their mom are well to do, living in a glamorous beachfront home, then they lose everything and have to rebuild their lives. That wasn't where the story was headed, but it was definitely where I wanted it to go.

I went back through the chapters, found the places I'd drifted away from the story line, cut out those parts, and . . . Yippee! SCULPTURE in progress. The Princess of Las Pulgas was back on track.

I began to think about other things that I might approach a little differently. Hmmmm. What about rejection? Usual reaction: pouting, lots of self-doubting, throwing a small fit where nobody can see.
So how about trying something else. Here's the plan: Really dig into that proposal, query letter, first pages. Something's wrong and it's my job to find out what. I can't rely on my opinion alone; that's really too subjective and by this time I've been joined with this piece of writing so long that I no longer have any perspective.

I happen to have a fab critique group, so I turned to them, but I had other options if I wasn't so blessed. The Verla Kay's Message Boards offer critique partner opportunities. There's always SCBWI  as well with tons of readers wanting to exchange manuscripts.

Another good place is YALitChat. There's a small annual fee, but so worthwhile. The Teen Writers and Readers Group is excellent. I've used them to beta read and have had some eye-opening comments. The First Pages gives you a critique group of over two hundred readers. There are also groups to help with your Queries and Synopsis.

Whatever you choose remember, sometimes taking a different approach to handling a situation can result in unexpected and often rewarding results. SCULPTURES, for example.


  1. Ahh productivity! How I miss it. I really need to get back to work. I spend far too much time biting my proverbial nails and not enough time on my craft. Thanks for reminding me to keep going at it!

  2. Absolutely! Creativity so often springs from the unexpected ... from odd combinations of ideas, from discarded ideas that suddenly spring to life in a new context, and from those rare flashes of insight that take everything to the next level! Every writing project can enjoy a new life with the right touch here and there! Love the onion story, by the way. Had a similar thing happen with squash seeds that took off from our compost one summer... went racing across our entire yard producing 12 huge butternut squash. Had so many ... shared with our grateful neighbors! It was great fun. And truly magical! Take care, Daisy

  3. Here's to productivity, Lisa and Dazy. I have a feeling you're both very creative people.

  4. I had no idea you could do that with onions! I might have to try that!

    And thanks for the thoughts on digging in on our wip. I wish a fairy would land on my shoulder and tell me what's wrong, but no such luck!

  5. I'll wish a fairy up for you, Julie. In the meantime hope that WIP is thriving.

  6. You are amazing! Thanks for the inspiration. Now to head back to that w.i.p. Thanks. :)

  7. Thank you for stopping by my blog and sharing the touching story about your dad.

  8. The onions did that? I wonder what else we can plant? As for the ms., it's so true that if we want a different result, we have to do different things. I can so relate to the "start a new story" tactic if I don't want to deal with the old one. Alas, that's not the way to a finished book.

  9. YAlitchat is an amazing place for top-notch feedback! I can attest to that personally, having benefited from it. Thanks for the reminder that I need to think more intentionally about seeking out MS feedback! :)


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