Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Letting go

Sending one's work out into the world isn't just an exciting step into the unknown, it's also an act of faith and optimism. We know the chances of rejection are enormous and the pain will be terrible but we still submit. I have enormous respect for anyone who does it because I know how much courage it takes.

I've spent two and a half years creating something, from the first inkling of an idea through the frantic excitement of the first draft, and the sometimes grinding boredom of seemingly endless edits and revisions. Shutting myself away from humanity to create this story. All the while trying to hold onto that initial spark that first inspired me and has kept me going.

Finally I feel I've achieved what I wanted, can feel proud of what I see on the page. What else is there to do but send it out into the world? If I don't, it will all have been for nothing.

Here's the funny part. All the while I told myself that I could do anything I wanted just as soon as this was finished. I thought I'd be giddy with excitement at the prospect of writing something different. But it isn't the case. It's harder to let it go than I imagined. I'm trying to work on something else but it's hard to concentrate. My heart isn't in it. I'm worrying about my precious baby out there in the world on its own.

So that's something new I've learned. Letting go is as important as creating, and they are both acts of courage worthy of respect.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Rejection letters

Haven't had one in a while. I'm starting to wonder whether I'll hear back from any of the other agencies I've tried.

Apart from obsessing about the full and standing outside waiting for Theo to pee I've been surfing a lot this past week. Mainly agency/editorial blogs which can be a useful mine of information. The kind of stuff no one ever tells you on their website.

Rejection letters, or any kind of letters, can be difficult to interpret. If someone says "You are a very good writer" are they just spinning you a line? Does "This story is not for us" mean they think you're crap?

I came across this site which gives some useful advice on the subject:

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

More writing books

Remembered a few more.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Written by two editors, this should be your first port of call when you come to edit/revise your novel. Very useful.

Is There A Book In You? by Alison Baverstock. I recently re-read the part relating to the publishing business. Contains lots of quotes from industry professionals as well as an analysis of your own commitment to being a full time author.

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. Written by a literary agent, this makes the point that hooking the reader is the author's first priority. And it's true. What's the point in writing the next War And Peace if no one ever reads it? But his advice pertains to your whole manuscript, not just the start. Read it before you submit your manuscript to anyone.

Monday, 20 October 2008

So hard to settle...

Everything is conspiring against me writing at the moment.

First, I'm wondering about my manuscript submission. Has anyone looked at it yet? Has anyone opened the envelope yet? Is it already winging its way back to me with "No Thanks" stamped on the front page?

I keep remembering bits of the story, cringing at the thought of someone reading it. "Why did I leave that in? It's terrible!"

I keep trying to concentrate on the other book I'm trying to edit into shape, but find myself surfing the Net instead.

And the other major distraction is the new addition to the family, my 9 week old cavalier pup, Theo who demands my full attention when he isn't sabotaging my attempts at writing. Pen drives make good chew toys, I have discovered. Authors beware.

So I'm not getting a lot done at the moment. I've tentatively signed up for Nanowrimo next month to try and focus myself, but I don't know how successful it'll be. I could use it to get this editing job done, and there's a comic novel I started last month but shelved after the first two chapters.

Here's hoping...

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Good news

Only just stopped jumping up and down.

Today I got my first request for a full manuscript.

I say "first". Of course, it might be my last!

Anyway, good feeling, and I'm hanging onto it.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Writing books

This afternoon I have ordered yet another writers' book. I used to be addicted to them, but it's under control now. Just about. There's only one thing I like doing more than writing and that's reading about writing.

So I started to think, what is my favourite book about writing. Not an easy question, there have been so many over the years I can barely remember them all. But a few stand out.

"Story" by Robert McKee. It's really about screenwriting but a story is a story regardless of the medium. I love his elegant style.

Anything by James N. Frey. I started with How To Write A Damn Good Novel and ended up reading a few more of his. His writing has such energy it is inspiring and it taught me a lot about story structure.

Wannabe a Writer by Jane Wenham-Jones is a good laugh and she has some useful insights.

78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might by Pat Walsh is a reality checklist. If you have any illusions about your ability this will help squash them.

No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty is the procrastinator's bible, written for anyone who's been planning that novel for years in his head but never put pen to paper. Very entertaining and inspiring.

Better stop there, although there have been others. No doubt I'll remember a few more by next time.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

All quiet on the submissions front...

It's quiet. Too quiet.

Got my last rejection on Sunday. Sunday? Yes, and what's more I only emailed it to them the previous Thursday pm so that gave them barely three days to read it.

Now, I don't mind getting a rejection. (Well, I do, obviously, but that's another story.) The thing I mind is getting a suggestion with it to send my manuscript to a Literary Consultancy (which probably charges an exorbitant fee) when they likely haven't even read my submission. Are they getting a little backhander from the Lit Consultancy to send work their way, I wonder? And is this professional behaviour?

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Great YWO POD Debate

Well, it's raged on all week. Nothing seems to polarise the writing community like self-publishing. But here's a poser:

This is a fictional scenario but it could describe many wannabes (including me!).

Supposing Jill has been writing for twenty years. She has done a couple of writing courses, read loads of books on the subject, had a few articles and short stories published over the years. But for the last five years she's devoted all her spare time and energy to getting her novel published.

She's tried everything. Writers' groups, peer review sites, endless redrafts and editing. She has sought advice from any and all published authors she encounters. And she has sent her sample chapters to every publisher and agent in the WAYB, and even the dodgy ones (well, you get desperate eventually). But all she has to show for it is a heap of rejection letters.

One morning she wakes up and looks in the mirror and thinks "I can't go on with this any more." She promised herself many years ago that one day she would see her name on the cover of a paperback and she's damn well going to make it happen. She picks up the flier that fell out of her latest writers' journal and dials the number of a self-publishing company.

The question is, can you blame her?

I've heard a lot of argument for and against self publishing this week, and I've found it very helpful in showing me the lie of this alien publishing land. But faced with the desperation of someone who just can't get a publishing deal, how can anyone condemn it?