More Musings on Life and the SecretNew year, new me.
My entire life I wanted to be a creative writer.
I wrote many stories for school publications. I wrote my own extended family newsletter. I wrote skits for my cousins to perform at holidays. I wrote speeches...
As an adult I submitted a few manuscripts for children's books through the snail mail.
The waiting is not my cup of tea. Did they even get my query?
In 2008, I became a serious aspiring author.
I submitted ideas for non-fiction articles to magazines, ideas for craft books, children's picture books, and even greeting cards. At least I meant to... it got dicey trying to remember who I sent what and how long I needed to wait before sending the same idea elsewhere.
Then I wrote a novel. Is it complete? Well, it has an ending. It also has an alternate ending. I edited it and edited it. It is such an accurate depiction of historical fiction that it could pass for non-fiction. So much attention to detail, so many important facts- it's beautiful!
So I emailed it to anyone and everyone in the publishing world. I actually received several personalized messages in return. (At least I like to think I did.)
"I love your writing style."
"You have great potential. Can you write something else? Here's what I'm looking for..."
Many generic, very nice responses (I won't bore you with the details) were sent to my inbox.
Here are my two favorite responses:
"Sorry, not for us."
Well, I can't go into it here but it is a detailed review with 'In Track Changes' written by an editor/publisher of romance novels. It is a sweet romance so I sent it off as a young adult novel.
That was April 2010.
I got busy trying to keep my head above water, keep the lights on, start a new business that didn't work out, and ultimately became a glorified babysitter. Of course, I thought about my novel all the time.
What I really needed was cash- fast.
While I was waiting to hear back from the editor I contacted an acquaintance in the publishing business. He is a local historian and the head honcho at a publisher of historical fiction and non-fiction. He was excited to read my book. He had encouraged me during my life tangent when I decided get my Masters/PHD.
I had not informed the editor that it would be a multiple submission so I had to wait. As I waited doubt grew inside me. If I intended to market the book as young adult fiction it would need some more editing.
I was sick of it. I didn't want to edit it one more time! Besides, it was perfect anyway.
Well, of course, it wasn't perfect. The editor suggested many cuts. Basically she wanted to cut out my heart and soul. Most of the beautiful back-story and every last one of those run-on sentences. What?
I responded back to her briefly. I asked if I should just scrap it and start from scratch with another story like a few literary agents suggested. Feeding on my doubts she said, "Well, parts of it may be difficult to reconcile with the readers. Of course it's up to you but I will be waiting to see your changes."
If you are an aspiring novelist or a published author you know this is huge.
I did not know this was huge. In my spare time I started writing a young adult novel with a fantasy twist. I'm still writing it. It's good. Tweens and teens will like it if I ever finish it. It's what the literary agents asked of me.
Recently, I went back and re-read those in track changes - eight months later. I didn't agree with everything but I started editing anyway.
From an actor's point of view I needed that back-story to tell me how to feel. I told the reader how to feel. Suddenly I had an amazing a-ha moment. I had been writing for me. I was telling - not showing. Many sentences, though beautifully crafted, were written in an effort to increase word count so I could submit as a novel vs. novella. Nobody cares about the detailed politics of Andrew Jackson (except maybe me) not even Mr. Historian (he already knows).
I agreed with all of the 'in track changes'. I have edited three chapters and discovered that I shamed myself. It's not terrible but it's clearly not good either. To think that I had actual interest is AMAZING.
It may be too late for the editor-lady but I am going to resubmit with the requested changes. It will be sent as a multiple submission to Mr. Historian too. Is it a sweet romance or educational historical fiction? I can't wait to find out.
In 2011 I am a novelist.
1. Write everyday.
2. Edit a zillion times.
3. Patience is a virtue. Hide it under the bed for six months and then take another look before you submit.
Join my journey http://www.loralangston.com/