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WIP or RIP?

by Donna L. Rich

When people ask me what I’m working on right now, sometimes, I have to stop and think (and count). I wonder if I have too many ideas or too many WIP’s going on at once. The problem is if I don’t get them down on paper (or flash drive), they prod and dig and pound inside my head. At that point, is it time to start a new WIP or say, “Rest in peace, I shall have nothing to do with you anymore?”

And then, what about working with the ones I already have going? That would be seven – a perfect number, right? I don’t know. It’s like I have seven grandchildren of all different sizes sitting before me, all of whom are important, all of whom need me and my time. I want to nourish them and help them grow. I wouldn’t do a thing to harm a hair on their heads. What? Cut? Cut my first chapter? Cut my second chapter? How can I destroy one of those little ones? Where will I find more words??

I’ll never forget my first pitch to an editor. It was at the Writing for the Soul Conference in Colorado Springs. To be honest, I felt like I was swimming around in a huge fishbowl with lots of big fish – sort of like Nemo. Nemo had a goal, a purpose, but so did I. I was going to be the next big discovery. The following year, I would win the contest, sit at a table and sign, and give away a copy of my first book to every attendee just like Jan Watson was doing. Right! I received a less than stellar response from the editor regarding my “baby”. Yes, she was nice in her rejection, but was that a little chuckle I heard as I left her table?

I had to find a friend. My very next session at the conference was with Dr. Dennis Hensley. He’ll be easy to follow, and he’ll be kind; after all, we were from the same town in Indiana! Hoosiers are kind to one another. What did he say? Cut? Cut my first chapter? This is supposed to be an editing session not a cutting session! So much for Hoosiers.

Remember when you were a kid and you got to use your first pair of blunt-end scissors? Your cutting job was meager, at best. But as time went on, you learned to cut better. You learned to follow the black line and snip off those white areas. Then, you got to graduate to pointed scissors. Pointed scissors were awesome! Pointed scissors let you cut out paper dolls (sorry men) and when you got to that part where the paper doll had her arm bent, you could cut the inside white part out a lot better.

To make a long story short, I finally caved under pressure. Most of my WIP’s have lost at least a chapter at the beginning – some in the middle. It works much better that way, and I found that the Biblical concept of pruning works. It’s not just for flowers, folks – even if your WIP must become a RIP.

Donna L. Rich writes contemporary and historical romance and is a member of ACFW, CWG, and the Mayflower Society. Her debut novel, Tropical Island Vows, was released in August 2011 through Heartsong Presents, and her second, Within Her Grasp, is scheduled for release this year.

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