There's a lot of both of those things that go with trying to become a published authour (isn't it weird how I always default to the British spelling?). And a lot of stress. I thought I knew stress after decades in the newspaper business, but this is more personal. I've spent the better part of the last year working on a novel, the genesis of which is an actual event in the lives of my grandmother and her sister. You'll likely remember from my earlier post that it was a finalist for a RWA Golden Heart Award (full disclosure, they don't read the entire book, just the first bit and a synopsis). I wrote that book, edited that book, edited it again. I submitted it to my critique group where I received feedback from a dozen smart and accomplished women. I edited some more. I sent it to my critique partner, CoeDee, and to some beta readers (think of it as beta testing a product before you release it). Then I ran the book through an editing software program that pointed out my many weaknesses (passive voice, over reliance on certain words ... you get the drift). And I was hopeful. Hopeful that my agent would like it. It wasn't dark like the book she loved that got me her in the first place. This book had damaged people to be sure. Damaged people are my jam. But it was more about human kindness. It had a love story. It was ... hopeful. And my agent "didn't love it". And I was disappointed. Very disappointed. Didn't-have-the-words-to-respond-to-her disappointed. Thick-skin-that-melted disappointed. Dagger-in-my-heart disappointed. I didn't have the presence of mind to even question her decision that she "didn't think she could sell it," I only managed to determine that she didn't have a problem with the writing. So it was the story. The premise. Don't get me wrong. I really like my agent. She's smart and a great person. But this. I didn't know what to do with this. So I gave myself a few weeks to grieve, eat chocolate and read. I read books that I'd been meaning to get to. Excerpts of books by writers whose books people were gobbling up at the moment. And I thought about STORY. I let the idea for a new book roll around in my brain and considered how best to make it stronger ... to make it a story that will resonate with readers. When I have an idea for a new book there are a couple of things I have to do before I can even start to figure out how to get from point A to point B. I need to get to know my characters. I invent them. Give them names, lives, backstories, character traits and personalities. I have to walk around in their skin. I have to know them as if they were flesh and blood. Then I sketch out the places they inhabit. Their home, their office, the hospital. I need to know how they move around in the physical space because I don't want to make those sort of decisions on the fly when I'm writing. If I pursue the idea that I'm kicking around, it will be a bit darker. I didn't plan that, it's just where the idea went. Maybe my agent will like this one better. Who knows. I will always write about damaged people. My main character will be a woman and she will have an emotional journey in the book that moves her from that point A forward. Thoughts and moments and bits of dialogue come to me and I pepper my desk with post-it notes. Two days ago I wrote the first paragraph. There are now words on a page. There is a working title. And I'm feeling hopeful. Again.
I've been a graphic designer for nearly 30 years and for some crazy reason I decided I wanted to write a book. So I did, and now I'm writing another. Looking for that one person to believe in me.
Glue YOUR BUTT
TO THE CHAIR
The ups and downs, small victories and major setbacks of trying to get your first book published. There will be laughter, tears and all that good stuff.