Wednesday, January 23, 2013

01/23/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Good day everyone! I hope this week has seen all of you well so far. Having Monday off was a nice day to relax, well it could have been if I hadn't decided that was the day I was going to put together our new entertainment center. I'm sure the people who already know about it are bored to tears with my story, but I'm proud of it, ok!

Today I wanted to talk a little about patience. This is something that people will gloss over and say that as a writer you need to have it, but it's never really explained why. Patience is something that factors into really every aspect of the writing life and if you aren't prepared for it you won't be able to appropriately adjust to the situation. Some people are impatient by nature and being hit in the face with results that aren't immediate is a huge stepping stone for them. Which is why I thought I'd bring it up today.

Simply deciding you're going to write a novel is one thing, sitting down and actually starting that process is another. Sometimes people have this idea for a story and want everything down on paper (physical or digital) instantly, and when that doesn't happen either because of their typing speed, or their hands/brains simply giving up for the day, they are hit with an incredible amount of disappointment and frustration. I'll admit that wanting my ideas to magically appear on the screen would be awesome and save a lot of time, but since technology won't catch up to the parts of my brain that are super cool we are forced to keep writing things down ourselves. This is where patience comes in, because frankly if you don't grasp onto it here nothing is going to get done. Take things one day at a time, learn your strengths, your weaknesses, and your limits and work from there.

Now let's say you've mastered the necessary amount of patience to get things started. You've been working on your would-be novel forever (or a couple months, time has vanished from your memory at this point) and you look down at the page count and suddenly panic strikes. No matter what number that is up to, whether it's short or long, there is going to be a moment when the fact it's to whatever point that maybe and it's not finish yet will strike you as simply impossible. First you may believe that something's wrong horrible wrong and you frantically make sure all of your progress is there. Then comes the points where blaming happens because no matter where you are the novel isn't done. You are convinced that it should be, but it's not, therefore you are convinced there's something wrong with you. I touched on this a bit when I came back too, in the sense that when it comes to figuring out your actual progress your brain won't always factor in this little thing called 'time' accurately. Here is where you take a step back and actually figure out the amount of time you've dedicated to your project. Maybe it's been a couple months since you've started, but maybe you've also only wrote on the weekends, or for about an hour every other day, or maybe you were writing like the wind at one point but needed to take a break for health reasons, or it's always possible that this thing called 'life' happened and made everything explode. There are so many possible factors as to what is causing the amount of time to pass in regards to your progress that blaming yourself is just ridiculous. Also, if it's only been two months and you're upset your novel isn't done, this is another point where you need to take a deep breath and remember that it can take years to finish one novel, and a couple months is not that much in the long stretch of things.

Next it's time for editing. This is a process where patience shines like a glorious star in the morning. You will have to now read your story again, make changes and notes, read it again and lather, rinse, repeat until you can't stand it anymore. Once that happens you throw it at someone else and let them do it, then they hand it back to you and the cycle begins again. This is the point where even I start to crack, mostly because by the end of it I am convinced that the story won't actually be interesting to anyone ever. This is because of the fact that I have now written it, and also read the story more times than I can remember how to count. I know everything about it, and also what happened before and what is to come. There aren't any surprises for me and everything seems predictable. This is the point where you throw the story at someone new and wait for their reaction, or you deem the story completely finished and your path will take one of two directions. The first being that of self-publishing, which (after you've bribed someone with food or money to make your cover image) is the quickest way to get that feeling of satisfaction. The other path is more waiting, and also more heartache, which is professional publishing.

Let's say your have your polished manuscript and it is a beautiful unique snowflake ready to be set delicately upon the world. You thought about self-publishing and don't like the idea of doing all of the work yourself (understandable) so you decide to go the route of getting an agent or just submitting to a publishing company. You write our your query letter and (in your opinion) it highlights all your manuscript's finest points, and get a list of agents/agencies and send out your submissions. Remember that waiting game you played earlier? Time to play it again and to couple it with some rejection letters. Sometimes the turn-around time for agencies can be weeks or in some cases, months, before you hear anything, and even then if you hear anything at all. Most places have a policy of 'if you don't hear back from us by X date, then sorry' and it's onto the next. A lot of people try the shotgun approach when it comes submissions, which is probably for the best so that you aren't hurting yourself by sending in one, waiting months, then sending in another. The problem that people have here is the fact that they, very likely, won't get an immediate response, and also the response they get has a higher percentage chance of being negative. This frustrates people and also adds to a depressed state. One way that I look at it that makes things a little better is to think about things from the agency's point of view: you've sent them a sample of your work, you and hundreds of other people too, and they have to make time to go through each and every one of them, go over the risk vs reward that is taking on a new author, and then decide whether or not that's something they want to do. They have to do that with each and every submission and sometimes that means only getting through maybe 10 a day (I honestly don't know, I'm just going on an estimate of about 50 new submissions a day and how long each sample generally is coupled with the logistical work that goes along with it). With more piling on each day it's no wonder agencies close their doors to new submissions for a while. Don't feel bad if you get a rejection, and in most cases, be thankful they sent you one in the first place because there are likely a lot of people who got nothing.

Finally, just remember that you wrote a book, that it was a long process that you should be proud of. Not everyone can do what you've done, and even though it was hard and draining, you can hold your head up high and be happy about it. I think everyone who has managed to write a book is fantastic and that you should always keep it up. I'm sorry this post was so long, but apparently I have a lot of say on the subject. I'll be back on Friday with another special review for everyone, so be sure to stop by and tell everyone you know and love. Until then I hope you all have a great rest of your week!

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