I started my writing journey almost two years ago. That seems forever ago, but at the same time it feels like yesterday. February 2010, I saw an ad for a writing class in a Shakopee Community Ed book that came in the mail. After some pondering, I decided to sign up. Writing a book was my dream after all and the chance to make it a reality was staring at me in the face. Hello. Time to get real. It doesn't get any easier than this. I'm glad I signed up and took the class. I learned a lot about the writing process, met some great people and realized that YES, I'd have to write an entire book if I ever wanted to get published.
|Me typing away!|
I had a lot of work ahead of me.
But I never realized how much work.
For nine month I worked on writing and more writing and more writing. I cancelled plans with friends, I spent 14-16 hours most every Saturday and Sunday for weeks at a time staring at my laptop and writing. I'd get up early. I'd race home from work. I'd take days off from work just so I could write. Finally, (and I mean finally) my first draft was done. 360-plus pages of awesomeness. Or so I thought.
Then I joined a critique group. Since starting the crit group, some gals have come and gone, but I'm ever grateful for each of them. Best decision ever. I thought they'd all love my book. The first three chapters came back with red all over them. My manuscript got slaughtered. "Goodness gracious," I thought, "my writing wasn't strong enough. I'm doomed." A nice little reality check if you ask me.
Still, that didn't stop me. I learned all I could about showing versus telling and shortening words and my poor use of different tenses and taking out the unnecessary parts that stalled the story.
Each time, each revision, my book would get strong and stronger. I was growing as a writer and it felt awesome. So then I thought I was ready to send off my full manuscript to agents, especially after a friend called me in a panic saying someone in REAL life had planned her wedding and didn't have a groom and was looking for one. Sounded too much like my book. I was scared she'd get a book deal and felt it was then or never. (I look back now and cringe at this...why, oh, why did I do that? My book was so not ready yet.) He said I had to get my manuscript out as fast as I could. Huge mistake. But I queried and started getting requests.
I was pretty excited and surprised.
Then the rejections came in.
But - yes, there's a but - I was lucky. I'd get personal emails from agents letting me know what I could do to make my story better. And I took each piece of information and added that to my manuscript. Some even asked to read the manuscript again. For the next nine months I queried, revised and was rejected. I never gave up. I was open to changing my manuscript and did just that.
Then I got pregnant. Life sort of changed and shifted and I didn't have the energy or desire to revise and query as much anymore. I think I was depressed a little - blame it on the hormones. I could barely get up the courage to walk into work, let alone think of words to make my book better. Yet, several agents still had my manuscript in their hands. And as baby was growing inside me, I'd hear back. Some suggested I contact other agents since there was possibility in my writing and storyline. But still nothing. I busied myself with baby stuff and kept my fingers crossed one of the agents would say "yes".
As of this week, the final one said "no" and there are no more queries out or no agents out there with my manuscript in hand waiting for review. For a couple hours after hearing that "no", I felt like all hope was lost. That I had given my dream my best shot and the final answer was "no". God was trying to tell me I'd never be a writer. I'd never get to hold my book in my hands. I wasn't good enough for this crazy dream of mine. This is why I was pregnant right now. I'd eventually become a mom, like the ones who were in my writing class, who gave up on their dreams to raise their babies and I wouldn't be able to come back to my dream until the kids were out of the house...20 plus years later. **gulp**
Then I remembered who I am as a person. I looked at the quote at my desk, "There is no failure except in no longer trying." And remembered I'm not like everyone else. I'm my own person and I have control of the choices I make. I'm determined. I'm focused. I have ambition like nobody I know. I know that voice telling me and pushing me to keep going is for real. I'm not crazy (well...okay, a little). I have passion and am committed to making this dream a reality. When I set out to do something, I do it. And I'm not giving up! No way. I love my story too much.
I feel like the timing is simply off right now. And one day down the road, the timing - my timing - will be on because I'm not giving up. For one, I never stopped believing and searching for true love and boy when the timing was right, I sure found it. If I settled for less in the past or gave up, I'd be miserable with myself right now! But I held out and look where that got me? To amazing.
In the meantime, I'm going to keep making my manuscript stronger until it's irresistible to the right agent. You know what that means? Time to get back to work, dust off all that negativity and self doubt and do my thang. Time to shine.
I collected all the feedback from agents and realized there was a commonality between all of their comments and suggestions. Yes, the publishing industry is quite subjective and my book is a little too "chick-lit" right now. Yes, I love chick-lit, but that doesn't matter because not a whole lot of others do. As in the people who buy books. I now get where they are going. Right now the popular genres are either Women's Fiction (which is a bit more dramatic and emotional) or Contemporary Romance (more love, passion, fun, flirty) and I needed to choose one. The way my manuscript stands now, well, it's not really in any popular category. Who's going to want to take it on, knowing it won't go far?
So I looked at my bookshelf last night. Tons of chick-lit books stared back at me...most from 2002-2004, when that stuff was a bit more popular. I thought of one of my critique partner's sympathetic emails to me, suggesting I turn my book into a sweet romance. She said that she wanted to get to know my main male character better. The bug was planted and I couldn't shake it. Since chick-lit wasn't an option, what else would be a great choice for me? What genre was I crazy about?
Ummm...that's a no brainer. ROMANCE. Romance is everywhere in me and my life. And I mean everywhere. Not only in my bookshelf but in my personal journals, all my writing, in my choices of DVDs and music on my IPOD (I mean, who else works out to Canon in D?), and the way I think and live. I love romance. Period.
And a new idea was birthed!
My new goal: To revise my manuscript to be more contemporary romance and see where that leads me. No time limit either. No rush. No pressure. Just me, my laptop, my thoughts and loads of romance...and the love of writing.
Wish me luck!