Everyone has to start their journey from writing to publication somewhere.
I wrote a book. Then I wrote four more. Yet still I didn’t consider myself a real writer, and the manuscripts got dumped in a drawer. But for some reason, the third of the five manuscripts wouldn’t let me go. The story needed to be told.
So I revised like a person possessed. I found critique partners and beta readers. I attended the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging Writers and had the privilege of studying with Malinda Lo. I entered Pitch Wars and ended up with amazing mentor Elizabeth Briggs. And as a result of the feedback, support, and constructive criticism I received, my book evolved and changed into something better and stronger.
Finally, when I felt I could do no more to improve the manuscript, I sent out some queries, attempting to follow the conventional wisdom and guidelines.
I got rejected.
And then one day, just as I was thinking about trunking the manuscript and moving on to the next book, a different kind of email hit my inbox.
An agent said she loved the manuscript and wanted to talk to me.
We scheduled the call for the next day.
We talked about the manuscript and my writing career and got a feel for one another’s style.
And came to this conclusion.
But then there was another offer!
So I had to think things through. After some panic, due diligence, and deliberation, I realized that while both agents were great choices, there was only one I couldn’t live without. She’s brilliant, passionate, and most importantly, understands the very heart of my book.
To all you other writers writing, dreaming, querying, and feeling uncertain that things will ever pan out for you–don’t ever give up. Keep working to be the best writer you can be.
One day you’ll get there.
Disclaimer: none of these gifs are owned/were made by me. Thanks to the talented people of Tumblr!
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| TAGS:agent, publishing, querying, writing
There’s only one important piece of advice I can give anyone how to write the first draft of a novel (or anything, for that matter):
If you have nothing written, you have nothing to revise. There isn’t any magic trick to finishing a book other than dedication. It’s okay to make mistakes and messes, and it’s okay to know you’ll have to come back later and do a better description of the flying rainbow whirligig in chapter 8. The most important thing is to finish.
Revising isn’t so simple. Since returning from Los Angeles, I’ve been deep in the bowels of revision hell putting to use some of the excellent feedback I got at the retreat. It’s both thrilling and agonizing—thrilling because I can see my book getting closer to something I’ll be proud to query, and agonizing because there are still days when I feel like I will never get there.
I’ve learned more about writing from revising this book than I did by drafting my other four novels combined. I don’t think there is any one right way to revise (or to draft for that matter) as every writer’s process is different. However, I do suggest the following:
- Set aside a first draft for a while before attempting any revision at all.
- Always make major changes to plot/structure before trying to line edit.
- Find a critique partner or beta reader who gives honest, detailed feedback.
- Be kind to your beta/critique partner—wait to send out your draft until you truly feel it is the best you can make it on your own. The same applies to querying agents.
- Revise ruthlessly, but also be kind to yourself during the process. After all, both you and your book are works in progress.