Never Done

Seven years ago I decided that I had a story burning up inside me that I needed to get out. So I wrote over 100 pages and went to get feedback.

It wasn’t pretty.

So I decided to take a writing course. That helped shape me up. I rewrote the story, got stuck, so write an entirely different novel, applying all the good notes I received from my course. I used said without fear, made sure the character’s scenes were conflict motivated, beefed up my setting description but not over doing it.

This time when I handed my manuscript to beta readers, I got more line-by-line tweaks since I had improved my basic building blocks of writing a compelling story. Now that I am starting to feel good again about my abilities as a writer I read a blog and now I question my sentence structure. Am I varying them enough? Am I boring the readers?

Even though I’m submitting my work to agents to get this book published, should I stop and rework the entire thing, for the 12th time? I know that each time I work on the manuscript it is getting better but when can I just let it go? When will I stop working over the same material but from different angles?

My guess is once this is goes to print. *sigh* That seems like that is so far away. At least, I don’t feel sick of working on it but I sure wish I could stop feeling self conscious of it and just feel done with it. Well, that could be my motivation to get this done and printed. So I can truly be complete with this manuscript.

Back to the little red pen.
The Dutiful Writer

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My Story’s Purpose

I finished up a round of books that are all deep with social commentary in the message of the story. They were great stories with such meaning and touch on dark spots on our human experience.

When I got the end I reflected on my own stories I’ve written and they seem shallow. Yet the deep, dark sides of humanity seem constantly in our faces with the news, conversations, and tragic events that happen all around us so why do I feel bad for wanting to bring joy, laughter, and light into the world with my creative works?

Do I want to take my religious/political/world view and bare it to the world by burying down into the storyline and make the reader’s question just what is happening in the world? Is that my purpose? Do I want that to be my purpose?

To be a writer, I want to be very clear about why I AM writing. Is it to entertain? To lighten another human’s burdens even for the brief time they read my words? Or do I want to comment on social woes and strive to make changes?

In the end, I don’t think it matter why I write. Maybe I’m just being too heady about this all and I should just write what I want to write and let the rest sort itself out later after I’m done with the piece. For now, I guess I will be content and get the story out of me and let the rest just be and not worry to deeply about it.

Finding the words & telling the story,
Melissa

Focus

My creativity, well most likely my life, is being super squirrelly. I’ll get these great ideas and I’m excited to do the work. The words flow out of me and onto the page. It feels me with joy and struggles to capture it all. And then nothing. I slam into my own back hole. I’ve never had this happen to me before it’s like I’ve been robbed of the sun.

Maybe this is because I’ve still got other pieces that are in various stages of pruning and shaping that I can’t seem to focus so my mind keeps wanting to wrap up the other works first? Naw, that sounds like an excuse. So how do I keep my eye on the long-term goal of getting the actually writing down and finish a project?

Well, I do know of one thing NaNoWriMo is around the corner. I’ve been wanting to do it for a few years but I’ve normally been neck deep in editing when November has came around. So this year I’ll make sure I’m pumped and ready to write starting November 1st. I love me a good deadline so this idea works with my goal oriented brain. So between here and November I’ll make sure I’ve got the structure of what I want to happen and the characters a bit more fleshed out than what I normally have before I start writing and see how it goes for me.

To the plan,

Melissa

On Safari

Our ammunition is the query, synopsis (of various lengths), and  first pages or chapters of our book. Our bullets are stuffed into either an envelope or email and our hopes ride on them finding the target and bagging an agent.

Picture of unseen person wearing a safari hat and binoculars peeking through grass

Yet how does one make their bullets powerfully enough to hook that agent’s overwhelmed eye? Well, isn’t that the book-contract-question? If I knew the magic recipe I’d have done it already. So it’s back to the basics.

The two most important things to snag an agent:

  • R.I.F
  • content.

R.I.F. (Reading Is Fundamental): Search for agents and only submit to the ones who want your type work. Did you write a killer spy novel but blindly submitted it to a romance agent? Boo on you. Be respectful of the agent’s time and yours. Read what they want, how they want to be submitted to and then follow their wishes.

Simple, yes but don’t get your material thrown off the to-do list because you didn’t feel like cutting your synopsis down from the ten-page monster you are in love with down to the requested two-page one.

Content: Again a no-brainer yet you can’t over state the obvious. Clean up your work. Get feedback from people who are actually submitting and doing the work. Befriend someone who is a grammar stickler. Ask for help. Always look for ways to be a better writer.

So while it’s tough being on safari and polishing your guns for that big hunt over and over again (and you feel like everything you write is rubbish), have faith. And if you don’t have faith in your work, keep writing, learn how do better, and find support around you to keep going when the brushes seems to snare you.

Remember one of the best author out on an agent hunt story I’d hear was Kathryn Stockett. You know her little book called The Help. She had over 60 rejections letters from agents and it took her over 5 years to finally down a live one. But she decided that her book and her work were worth it. So don’t get too discouraged just keep reloading and putting yourself out there, in the hunt.

Shh, did you hear that twig snap? They must be close; look alive and release the hounds.

Tallyho,

Melissa

To Selfie Or Not To Selfie

No, not take a picture of myself every other day and post it on social media but should I self-publish? When I first finished my manuscript, I contacted a PR person and I made a list of all the things I would need to do to make my book a professional looking product. In the end, I reasoned that it would be “easier” to get an agent and learn the ropes through their professionals. With that mindset, I decided self=publishing for my first book at least. I wasn’t delusional about the process, I knew that to get an agent would be a challenge and that it would test my patience.

So here I am one year after I sent out my first round of agent submissions and still no agent. I know it’s only been a year and I’ve only submitted to under twenty agents but I tired of waiting for someone else to approve of my work. Plus once I got them, they would work with me on manuscript and then shop it around to publishing houses. So it could easily take years to see this book in print. The question becomes should I do a few more rounds to agents but prepare to self-publish at the same time?

The Show Must Go On by Nesh - The famous quote.

If yes, what would I need to do to self-publish?

  • Find a stellar editor, which I am lucky that I know one.
  • Find a good artist to do the cover art work, which I think I can get that one nailed down by pestering a few people.
  • Then there’s the book layout. I can do my own layout through In Design, which would be great since I’d have ultimate creative design control over it.

The only thing I don’t know I want to deal with is the marketing. Just thinking about doing all of the marketing makes my head hurt. I don’t mind blogging, tweeting, and facebooking my info. Well, I guess I could also go to local book stores and talk with the people there if they would carry my book but I don’t want to do much more than that. Call me lazy but I know that isn’t where my strengths are.

It seems to me that I should prep for both because I want to share this work with the world. And if I keep looking at the manuscript over and over again, I think I may start to hate the work. It’s been over two years since I started writing the manuscript, I’ve lost a good friend in the process and almost lost my mother to illness so it’s time I put a little joy an cheer back into my world and get this out there.

To sharing my work with the world,

The Writer says print.

Adrenaline Shot to the Heart

Since September I’ve been sending out my manuscript, query, and synopsis to literary agents. It’s been a bit disheartening and hard to keep my own personal moral up. I don’t mind the thank-you-no-thank-you letters/emails, it’s the no word ones that kind of tie me up.

By them not even sending a note, I have to wait the entire 2-8 weeks before I feel comfortable sending my paperwork out to the next set of agents. I know I don’t need to but it feels unprofessional to do otherwise. So I send out to agents in batches and then wait and wait to hear nothing except my calendar inform me that I can begin the process again.

Yet this time, I got a little tug on my line. An agent actually requested to see the first five pages of my manuscript. I know it’s not much, it’s not even 2% of my book, but it makes me feel great. Which is exactly what I needed to keep my edits and writing humming back on track. Even if this isn’t the agent for me, I appreciate that her asking for more, it lifts my spirits and juices my drive to hit the pages harder.

To the work!

Please let me channel the Energizer bunny behind the keyboard,

~The Writer

Big Game Hunter

I’ve been hunting for the elusive literary agent. They seem overwhelmed by the changes in the publishing world and overworked from everyone and their mother seeming wanting to be represented. So what can one lone safari tracking writer do?

Write the best story they can.

That’s it. Our job is to write because it is in our heart and soul to do so. Getting a literary agent or publisher to find your work is just due diligence & a mountain of patience. I know people have tip lists and rules of thumbs to find the right one but it all comes down to what you can control and that is what you write. So be fearless; continue to write even in the face of thank-you-no-thank-you canned email responses.

My advice may not be rock science but good old grit and determination. Believe in why you started down this path. For me, it was because if I didn’t write the story, they would be stuck in my mind with the characters screaming to get out until I slowly stopped believing in them and then they would start to die of neglect. Now is that anyway to treat my imaginary friends?

So I continue to write and take the time to continue to search for a way to share my character’s antics with the world by submitting to literary agents.

Which by the way I should be doing right now.

Onward to the hunt,

The Writer