Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tool. Yes, I am one.

Way back in the summer of 2005--when first the stories I wanted to write would not leave me alone--I had a lot of naive ideas about what the publishing industry was like. Here are a few of my misconceptions:

1) THEN: SIMILAR IS OKAY. COPYCATS ARE COOL.
NOW: IF I CAN FIND NOTHING THAT COMPARES, THEN IT'S A KEEPER IDEA.

That summer, when I was naively typing away, I thought the world WAS looking for something to replace the soon-to-be ending Harry Potter series. And I thought it was great that my book was similar (in a few ways). The truth is when you are a novice you unintentionally/unconsciously copycat. (I did anyway.) And it's not okay. You have to find your own voice, learn your craft, and be an original. This was a hard lesson. And I'm embarrassed to say it took me a long time to learn it. And a lot of reading. There are hundreds of books out there that need reading to make sure you are an original.

2) Then: REVISION IS TURNING SPELL CHECK ON.
Now: REVISION IS LIKE TRYING TO RUN A DECADE-LONG MARATHON BY SCOOTING ON YOUR BUTT.

Okay, so maybe I'm being over dramatic, but the concept fits. I like editing, always have. But to rewrite feels like self-cutting. I don't like it. I don't want to lose a single, precious drop... uh... I mean word. But I must. (Rewrite that is, not cut myself.) And so I revise little by little, taking a lot of time until the sentence/scene/chapter/book fits. This is the butt-scooting where eventually something productive comes out of the effort. Again, I have more--so much more--to learn in this area. (And I haven't even begun to think what it might be like with editors, copyeditors, and such.)

3) Then: FINDING AN AGENT WOULD BE EASY.
Now: I MIGHT NEED A NEW EMAIL BECAUSE MY INBOX IS ALMOST FULL.

Again, I'm being over dramatic. I've really only had a few rejections on Courtesy and Patience, and almost all personal, but I never would have realized that it took more than a few bites, a few full manuscript reads, to find an agent who was passionate enough to see the project through. Here, I'm definitely still learning too. I'll let you know if I ever see the light at the end of THIS tunnel.

4.) Then: I DON'T NEED CONNECTIONS, MY WRITING SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. SO DO MY CREDENTIALS.
Now: IT MIGHT NOT BE WHO YOU KNOW, BUT FRIENDS HELP.

Sure I went to the same college as Stephenie Meyer. Sure we live in the same state, but I don't know her. And I likely never will. So stop asking, world. But through online resources I've "met" a few incredible writers, all obsessed like I am with getting published someday. It's so humbling to find out how many people write, who will go the distance and not crank out one but several novels all in the hopes that one will stick like gum to the minuscule publishing window of opportunity. These people come from all walks of life and many have had surprisingly successful careers in other areas before the writing bug affected their brains. I love receiving their guidance and support!

5.) Then: IF I CAN'T GET A BOOK IN HAND BY 2010, I'LL GIVE UP.

Now: HOW DO I GIVE UP?!

Writing has become such a big part of life (like it used to be before graduate school), that I can't give it up. There are stories that need paper, ideas wanting to be shared, and most of all, the zen that comes into my life when I've written at least a little. And then there's the euphoria of finishing a first draft. Writing has become my release and I just have to write. There's no stopping the habit. (Unfortunately for my family and housekeeping.)





So there are my TOOL confessions. A bit jaded I know, but right now I feel like the only tool in the tool box. I'll get over it in a week or two. For now have fun laughing at me and my prior mistakes. Er... I mean WITH me and my mistakes....

4 comments:

  1. I still think copycats sell... I have read SO many books that are so similar it can be annoying, so I suppose it is good to be original. Here's to you bein the ORIGINAL TOOL out there! :) Keep up the hard work, it will pay off in the end! Although, it would be nice if you took a break once in awile... I miss you! :)

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  2. Who could know ALL the nuances of the writing, editing, publishing biz without actually experiences them first???? It's a learning experience. You're getting your feet wet...and I bet you're doing great! Hard work pays off...and truly, the only person you have to please with your writing is YOURSELF!!!

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  3. Wow, that is quite a list! But look how much you've learned! I feel like it's one of those things that as long as you're progressing, it's a positive thing :)

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  4. Jackee, I'm so there with you, esp. the self cutting er, I mean editing. : ) As a writer it seems insane to put all this time into a ms. and never see it published but we have to keep tugging along anyway. Smile and keep writing.

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