Monday, October 22, 2012

Work in Progress


I write for a living though I’ve yet to make any money at it.  You see, I could not live without writing.  It is as much a part of my existence as breathing and eating.  That’s not to say I don’t want to one day get paid for my writing.  I’m just not there yet; I’m still learning the craft.
I finished my first manuscript four years ago, and I immediately sent a query to a literary agency and to the editor of a small publishing house.  The agency answered first requesting the full manuscript.  I sent it within two weeks, but it only took them two days to send back a rejection.  It came accompanied with six pages of revisions and the manuscript dripping in editing marks. Ouch.
Next the editor from the publishing house requested the same manuscript but I just packaged it all up into a folder and filed it away. What the literary agency suggested made sense. It stung.  It was painful.  But it was correct. I knew I had a good idea; I just didn’t know enough about the craft to do it justice.
I soldiered on.
I finished and polished two children’s stories next and entered them into a well-known, national writing contest. Several writer friends warned me that very few ever placed in that contest and I was in for more disappointment.
I was getting good at growing a thick skin, so while I waited for that rejection, I started on a romance novel. 
I felt like a floundering college freshman, I couldn’t decide on a major. What kind of writer did I want to become?  Fiction? Children’s lit? Romance? There is so much to learn about the craft of writing well.
It took me twenty months to write the romance novel.  My protagonist begged for mercy since she was pregnant the entire time. Not satisfied with the end result, I packaged this one also, filed it, and moved on to my next project.
In the meantime, my two children’s stories placed in the top ten percent of the nationwide contest.  I looked at those again and wondered if I should not pitch them to editors.  Instead I ended up drawn to my first manuscript.  Maybe I could I read it this time (and the list of revisions) without wincing and crying?
It was time to get serious about being an author. 
I envy writers born with words that flow onto the page.  I have to pry mine off my fingertips like those dried flakes of skin you make with Elmer’s Glue. Half the time they disintegrate into nothing.
I have lots of ideas for future projects, but I cannot continue creating manuscripts and not seeing them all the way through the publishing process.
There’s a big difference between being a writer and being a published author.
One day (I hope it is not posthumously), you will see my work in print.  By that I mean published traditionally.  I want to hold a copy of my work in my hands and flip through its bound pages.  I want to open my email and find that a check has been deposited into my bank account because of it.
Then I will know what it means to say, I write for a living.   

2 comments:

  1. Oooooh, I love the phrase about prying the words off of your fingertips. I so get that! Like they're being dragged out of my head.

    You'll get there, sister!

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  2. Why thank you, Ms. Pittman. You are my inspiration. I love your body of work. :)

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