My “Precious” makes me insane. I have a story in my head. I want to share it with others but it must be planned and structured. Then it must be perfectly formatted, punctuated, and edited or an agent will reject it. Various writing craft books and blogs from our age tout, “Start in the middle of the action…don’t give backstory,” etc.
Therefore, I was surprised and encouraged to realize J.R.R. Tolkien would have trouble publishing The Hobbit in today’s Young Adult market. The first two and a half pages are narrative with long descriptions and backstory. The action begins when Gandalf arrives at Bilbo’s door. The first chapter is an aggravating twelve pages long—funny how I didn’t notice these things at the age of seventeen. It was the first book I ever read on purpose, not school related, and loved. Today’s persnickety set of writing rules would have eliminated the whimsical charm of learning how comfortable a hobbit home is and the important backstory about the adventureless Bagginses.
However, even Tolkien wasn’t completely satisfied with his first edition. From Douglas A. Anderson’s, “Note On The Text”, one learns Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937. Then in 1951 Tolkien overhauled Chapter V to correspond with his new series, The Lord of the Rings. More revisions came in 1966. Publisher, HarperCollins, revised in 1995.
Perhaps he would revise again if he were living. Many published authors cringe when they look at their books again, wishing to revise. How many famous novels were almost trashed before publication because of the insanity involved in revising?
So, I am encouraged to continue honing my “Precious” another year, protecting it from the fires of Mordor and the delete key.