I knew my first novel was a work of genius. It was obvious. So it was a bit disconcerting when my MA tutor suggested that, while writing it had been a good learning curve, it was time to put that book to one side and start another. Even more disconcerting was the experience of sending it out to agents. My sample chapters returned so fast the envelopes had scorch marks down the side.
I tried sending the novel to a book doctor. But when the report came they too didn't think it was a work of genius. Humph - whoever wrote that report was clearly an idiot and their opinion was not worth considering.
Rejection hurt. A lot. But above the pain of rejection I was genuinely baffled. How could they not spot the gloriously wonderfulness that was my novel? I sulked. I sulked for six months. And through my grand sulking the notion gradually percolated - perhaps the novel wasn't so great after all.
I looked again at the book doctor's report. They'd seen a problem and suggested a solution that seemed complete madness. It was still a daft solution, in my opinion, but perhaps the problem they'd spotted concerning the four viewpoint characters had some validity. They wanted three of those viewpoints given more strength. I knew that solution was wrong. It was obviously wrong! But how to deal with it?
I sulked a bit more. And then I came up with my own solution: what had been written from four viewpoints should be changed to a single viewpoint because, in truth, I was only interested in one of the stories I had interwoven. But that meant cutting about 50% of what I'd already written. I did some more sulking, and then went and sharpened my axe.
I lost 90% in the end, but once I'd made the decision to go for wholesale slaughter the process wasn't that bad. In fact, it was almost enjoyable. I knew the book wasn't a work of genius as if had been before, but I suspected I might have something publishable.
The result? Well, when I sent the novel out again it took 36 hours from slipping the ms into the letterbox to have my first offer from an agent. Others followed, along with the publishing deal. That book ended up being published around the world.
Which only goes to show: sometimes mass murder is the right thing to do.