Old Manuscripts, Selling, and The One That Gets You There

Probably the one RWR article that gets me going is the First Sale column. I mean, come on, I hope to be there soon. So I’m always curious “who’s” making it now. And while I’m usually excited to read it, I’m generally depressed after having done so.

So and so announces her first sale. This was the first manuscript she finished. She has been writing for one year.

Well, gee. That makes me feel spiffy.

So and so announces her first sale. This was the second manuscript she finished. She has been writing for twelve years.

Now here’s where my brow creases and my eyes cross. Does that mean it took her twelve years to write two manuscripts? Or has she written umpteen-million manuscripts since and number two was the first that sold? I usually walk away from the First Sold column scratching my head for various reasons.

The topic of first sales and old manuscripts recently came up on the RWC list. And having read through most of the responses, I walked away with the feeling that moving ahead with new work is generally more productive than going back and reworking old manuscripts. Several published authors said they just “knew” when they had the manuscript that was “it”. That they had found their voice and knew that was the one that would get them there.

But tell me this…how do you know when you have THE ONE?

I recently reworked an old manuscript. And while I dreaded it from the get-go, the rewrite went so much faster than I ever expected. Once I started writing, the flow was there, the characters came alive and the plot laid itself out for me. Does that mean I’ve found my voice? Who knows. I do like the result of that rewrite, and I’ve received great feedback from everyone who’s read it. But does that mean it’s THE ONE?

No clue. I’m only starting to query that manuscript now. Time will tell, I guess.

I also know my writing is better with my WIP than it was in my last few manuscripts. (If the big red marks from my cp’s are any indication…I’m getting less and less of those with each crit. And damn it, I am learning how to use a comma correctly! LOL). The mechanics of writing are easier, the scenes pop into my head faster. But in the midst of the process, I often feel like I’m writing drivel. Only when a cp says, “no, this is good,” do I think, “okay, maybe I’m starting to get it”. But does that mean I’ve found my voice?

No clue. If anything, I think I’m only more confused.