"I am happiest when I write what I do not expect. I seek surprise, contradiction, doubt, challenge. Many drafts are failures, but instructive failures. We have to fail in order to write... Each first draft is a new step into the unknown. It is by drafting (failing) that we uncover our true meaning."
~ Tom Romano (from Adolescent Literacy)
Most of us feel a strong sense of loyalty to our first drafts or our current WIP's. Romano says that he is never loyal to his first drafts - that is when the story tells us what it has to say. Through a great deal of editing and revision, our drafts become "natural, graceful, fluid," and express what we want them to say. Graham Greene said, "Isn't disloyalty as much the writer's virtue as loyalty is the soldier's?" If we cling too tightly to our stories - to favorite lines, paragraphs, scenes - we cling to mediocrity.
I wrote a picture book. I queried that picture book. BIG MISTAKE.
When I found a critique group and allowed others to provide valid and constructive feedback, I discovered it was never meant to be a picture book at all. It has become a full-fledged chapter book. I had to let go of the "picture book" mentality and some of my favorite chunks of text. That hurt a little. But you know what? I love what my story has become. And it's a stronger story.
Tom Romano was right. I'm happier with the story I didn't expect.
Today, have an open mind to the potential that may be hiding in your story somewhere - be excited about feedback that frustrates you. Seek "surprise, contradiction, doubt and challenge" within your writing and be happy when you find it.
Have you ever ended up with a story you didn't expect?