My four year-old son left his computer game to run over and get my attention. "Mom, I wrote my name on the 'pewter. Come see!" he said, his face lit up with excitement. And sure enough, on the screen were the letters "NEB". Trouble is, his name's not NEB, as I am not a horribly cruel mother. ;)
He was so proud of his accomplishment; I didn't want to burst his bubble with the truth. So I paused a moment before saying anything, and it was in those few breaths that I realized he truly had accomplished something. He'd chosen the correct letters and ONLY the correct letters of his name. He'd simply put them in the wrong order.
It got me to thinking about the first draft of Between, and how it compares to the manuscript today. Writing a book was an accomplishment, to be sure, and I was puffed up just like Ben when I finished it. Look what I'd done! So I ran out to agents to tell them the good news and over time, the message sunk in that maybe I needed to take another look, to refine, to reorganize the letters, if you will.
Ben was a little deflated when I pointed out his error (in the most loving way possible), but he made his changes with determination, confident he was going to get it right. And so have I. I'm still puffed up about the book and I know it'll get picked up at some point. But just like Ben, I had to learn that even though it might not be perfect the first time around, keep trying and eventually, the letters will line up just like they should.
Thanks, NEB. Mommy loves you.