Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Then Fix It, Dear Henry, Dear Henry, Dear Henry.

I'm really hoping all of you know the song that goes...

There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza, dear Liza. There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole!

Because if you don't...well...this post might not make that much sense. But I'll try anyway! :)

So let's say you DO know the song. If that's the case, you know how Henry keeps giving excuse after excuse to  his wife about how he can't fix his bucket. Every solution she comes up with, he has an excuse. So by the end of the song, he still has a holey bucket and a very frustrated wife.

Whenever I'm staring at my computer screen, scanning my latest completed first draft, I have that song going through my head.

On the one hand, I've got this voice that's saying there are holes! Ghastly holes! We cannot move forward with all of these holes! And on the other hand, I have another voice saying, well fix them!

Obviously, Henry was overwhelmed. Though Liza gave him very good solutions to his problem, he felt his excuses were equally valid. Eventually, I imagine, he gave up on his bucket altogether. Maybe he even bought a new, shiny bucket that was absolutely perfect. This bucket was better than any other bucket he'd ever used! But eventually, that new, shiny bucket also starts to lose it's luster, and Henry's right back where he started, giving up on a bucket that just needed a little attention.

So which one do you listen to? Is Henry telling you to give up? Is he giving one brilliant excuse after another as to why your novel is just not fixable?

Maybe you think you suck. 

Maybe you think you're too old.

Or your novel is too long.

Or too short.

Or too stupid.

Or is Liza telling you how to fix it? Is she screaming at you to not give up? Is she telling you there is a way?

I certainly hope so because I know how you feel. I've been there before. Actually, that's not right. Let me rephrase. 

I'm ALWAYS there. 

I'm always doubting. I'm always letting Henry tell me I'm not good enough, that my books are "unfixable." But I'm not really writing this post to get your sympathy. I've come to terms with my "Henry" voice and realized that despite everything I do or accomplish, he'll always be there. And that's okay.

But I am writing this post to encourage you.

Henry is wrong. His points may be valid, but he is wrong. He gave up on something because he didn't think he could fix it, or because he thought the attempt would be too hard.

I've heard so many stories of writers who were about to shelve a book they were querying when they got a request for a full from an agent. Instead of shelving that book, they made the changes they knew needed to be made and sent the new, fixed version to the agent and got "the call." 

They'd almost let Henry have his way. Thank goodness they didn't.

Are you letting Henry have his way? Have you given up on a book that you know is good at its heart, but just needs some help (whether major or minor)?

Tell him to mind his own business, and then get to work! You can get it done. It may be hard or overwhelming, but it's possible. Don't give up.

Just fix it.*

*ooh! This should be my new theme! Screw you, Nike! I've got a better one! Hehehehe!


  1. Yes, but that nagging Liza is so annoying! :) I always thought maybe they should have just bought a new bucket...hmmm, but that doesn't work so well with your fun analogy. :) (And your motto is way cooler and more meaningful than Nike's!)

  2. Maybe you should switch songs. Try You are the Wind beneath my Wings or something LOL.

  3. :) Thanks for the encouragement. (I do remember the song.)

  4. Connie--Oh good! I was, honestly, a little scared no one would know what I was talking about. Phew!

  5. No quit here! Henry can go jump in the lake!

  6. heeheehee!
    let's take the bucket and fix it, and then fill-it-up... with HENRY'S HEAD!!!!! mwha ha haha haaaa!!!!

  7. Haha, I love this! We all have excuses, right? The point is to overcome those in any way possible and just get it done. I need that extra umph right now...I'm just about to finish the first draft of my first novel.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  8. I thought Spearhead made that song up, but apparently it's some kind of folk song. Who knew?

  9. O.o...this is like the motivational equivalent of a drill sergeant speech for writing. I like it.

  10. Ooo! I know that song! Used to love it as a kid, actually. Great analogy to apply it to writing. Yeah, it IS easier said than done to "fix" a novel. But if we keep trying ideas and figuring them out, something will click sooner or later. Keep trying!

  11. Oh wow, I think you've been reading my mind. I've been listening to Henry for a long time. Just last night, I received an email from my own Liza (although she's less naggy than the song one) who made me realise I might be able to salvage one of my buckets :-)

  12. This is an awesome post Emily!!!!! When I think one of my books are unfixable I think of how much work I've already invested in it and I KNOW its worth fixing.
    When we get together for our SH spa day we can smother Henry together if you'd like. :)

  13. ah, I was hoping you were talking about Henry Cavill and that his pic would pop up from somewhere :)

  14. Fantastic point and reminder, and fun how you tied it into the song. I'm in edits now, so I know those voices oh so well. Shut it, Henry!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse gearing up for the upcoming 2012 A to Z Challenge!


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