I think this is the most important post out of the three for this Dust It Off bloghop. If you missed it, Day 1 and 2 were sharing our shelved project's short pitch and a 300-350 word excerpt. Today I get to talk about what I learned.
Writing Shadow Watchers (my first book) changed my life. I feel like I've lived the whole writer's cycle with this one book. And I want to share a bit of my journey with this story. Not too many authors are open/blunt about querying and rejection, but I want to be.
I learned how to write while crafting Shadow Watchers. I LITERALLY woke up at 3:00 am six-days-a-week and wrote until seven in the morning until the kids got up so I could complete this book. (A must with 4 kids under the age of 6 at the time--though I strangely recommend it--those early morning hours are magic)
When it was finished, I knew (thought) I had a winner. How many of us newbie authors think we have the next best thing on our hands? (Ha! Well, you might)
So I started querying.
It was never an option to "fail" while querying Shadows. I was convinced I'd get an agent. The amount of requests I got was sick. The total was up to 28 full requests... a lot of them partials upgraded to fulls. Even had one agent tell me my opening chapter was one of the best she'd ever received. (I don't say this in a cocky way at all, I'm only trying to convey how hard it is to have your hopes so high only to fall and have them dashed) So each time I thought, "This will be the one. The one agent that will want to take me on."
But it never happened.
So I learned how to face rejection. Learned that I am a small fish in a very, VERY big pond. It was hard (very, very, VERY hard). So much so that I never wanted to write again. What was the point when it hurt this bad?
But somehow I kept going. (Phew! Good thing. And this is the part where I wish I could go on and tell you the rest of the success story, but I don't have one yet!)
Because of rejection, I took a step back and was more determined than ever to find out what was wrong. Combining the advice I received from agents, I knew it was a pacing thing. I think three whole books were shoved into one, and I needed to learn how to space things out. How to focus on character. Not be so plot driven. It's not just about being a good writer. There are soooo many other factors that make a story exceptional.
So I dove into my next book with those thoughts in mind. Have I done it this time around? Not sure. But we'll see if I've done a good enough job. If not, I know my next book will be better. And the next.
So what have I learned? Everything that matters right now in my writing life. I've learned how to balance my writing obsession, I've learned how to face rejection head on, and I've learned how to improve and persevere regardless.
In a strange way, I think I owe it to my first novel to keep going. So someday I can rewrite it and let the characters in my first book shine like I know they deserve to shine.
Phew! Are you still here? If so, to sum up, I think everyone needs a first novel. Whether it's successful or not. Because regardless of what stage you are in with the writing game, you're going to have to face all of the emotional ups and downs that come with being brave enough to call yourself a writer.
Red. Head. Out.