Steps In Between

My journey as a writer.

Possibilities

possibilities

Possibilities ~

I love this word because it’s full of hope. Anticipation swells in my belly as the word rolls off my tongue.

Possibility is defined as the state or fact of being possible. Possible is defined as that which may or can be, exist, happen, be done, be used, etc.

When I think of possibilities I imagine tall skyscrapers in bustling cities, or massive mountains in landscape vistas. No matter how small the possibility, I visualize even the tiniest ripple effect leading to a major crack in time. At least, these are my mental images.

I often feel this way after I’ve completed something I’m extremely proud of. Something I’ve sunk my heart into, and traced my fingers around each and every edge. I’ve carried it from conception through hours of effort, stress, and tears to this point in time. To right now.

And here I am, once again, at the gate of possibilities. My manuscript is ready to be sent out. Gulp!

As some of you may know, I have been working on the synopsis and query letter to my YA/fantasy novel, Seam Keepers. Writing a one-page synopsis of my 300-page story seemed impossible. The query letter was also a hairy task. I have literally been working on them for four straight months. Even after receiving agent interest at the July PNWA Writer’s Conference, I didn’t send out a thing… because of these unfinished parts.

frayed edges

This was a frustrating seam… frayed edges in my dream-quilt of publishing. Even before I knew its title, or the characters, or the plot, I had envisioned this book for years (writing other stories that fell to the wayside in its path). All until a challenge from a new friend, Amanda, brought Seam Keepers to life. Sitting next to her at our children’s sporting event, back in 2014, we began chatting. One thing led to another, and she said she was a writer. My heart practically leapt from my chest, because only two weeks prior I had prayed for an opportunity to take my writing seriously. I was tired of hiding it behind my computer screen early Saturday mornings and late weekday nights, not telling a single soul I was writing, not even my family.

Without restraint, I blurted out, “I’m a want-to-be-writer.”

She laughed, tossing her hair behind her back. “Then, you are a writer.”

And that’s all it took. Divine intervention I should be writing. I told her about my assortment of unfinished novels and children’s stories. She challenged me to write something completely new. She said, “Don’t look back, don’t edit or revise, just write every day and finish it. Then, you will have something to go back to and fix up the way you want. Finishing it is the first step.”

1-nanowrimo

The new month of April was just days away, and evidently NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) had an online camp in April to practice for their big writing month of November. She suggested I sign up. This was all new information to me. After checking out the camp online, ultimately, I was too much of a scaredy-cat to sign up. However, I did decide to try it on my own. I set out on March 31st, 2014 to write a book in a month.

Well, it took me longer than a month, but by December, I had finished it. It was done. Beginning, middle, end – done! I posted a picture of my stack of printed pages with a glass of wine in early January. It was the first time I shared with the world what I was up to. This was the accountability piece I needed. If I was going to publish a book, I needed to start my journey—out loud.

10923337_10203423309528983_10013831789460827_n[1]

Of course, this first draft was atrocious! When I look back on it now, I can’t even get through a page without contorting my face into various appalled expressions. But the next draft was better, and the one after that I actually sent to an independent editor for feedback. I worked with her through two more drafts, before deeming it ready for an audience. I gathered a small group of beta readers (and by small, I mean two friends). They answered the most important questions I had at the time: Does it read like a book? Is there a real story there? Was is stupid? Their answers were yes-yes-and no. Thank you Megan and Seanna. And with that, I felt encouraged to make my story even better.

I took their suggestions into another revision, and soon, it was ready for more feedback. Time for more beta readers. I found a larger group of six friends, and sent it out on the wings of a prayer. Whoa! Great feedback and lots of new typos. Lesson learned: When you revise, things get moved around, reworded, and mistakes you didn’t have the first time suddenly appear. What I found the most challenging is considering everything that goes into good writing all at the same time. But, I was riding this wave of possibility, and there was no way I was quitting.

I took an online writing class, and learned how to effectively plot my scenes, and how to bring my characters alive. I scoured the Internet to find tips and advice about writing and editing. I joined three writing Facebook groups, sucking in everything possible from the creative world out there. Finally, after another draft, I sent it out to third group of beta readers, this time friends of friends, some of which I didn’t know at all. This was what I needed, and the feedback was affirmative. I felt confident I was heading in the right direction.

Once I polished things up, with suggestions from my third group of readers, it was time for the PNWA Writer’s Conference in July 2017. I had already sent in an earlier version of the first 27 pages to them. I didn’t win the contest, but PNWA sent back two positive critiques which were uplifting. The highlights were:

  • “I think the story is solid and marketable.”
  • “The author has a very keen sense of dramatic structure at the scene level.”
  • “The author paints immersive, atmospheric settings that engage all the senses. Strong writing skills here.”
  • “The story moves along and never bogs down in back story. Great work here!”

I was ready to unfold myself as an aspiring author at the conference. I had a finished manuscript and proudly threw myself into the mix of published and emerging writers. I’ve posted about this experience already, (https://stepsinbetween.com/2017/10/02/writing-recipe-summer-to-September/). But more importantly, I met some amazing people. I learned about my genre, and about characterization. I acquired secrets to writing stronger scenes and sequences. I picked up some amazing examples of fiction, and resource books on how to craft fiction. Eagerly, I set to work on my finished (suddenly unfinished) manuscript. Another draft!

Would it ever be done? I had snipped down the word count, fully read my story through three more times on my own, and prayed like a small child. Though there was still something missing. Those frayed edges that weren’t sitting right with me. I needed a query letter and synopsis. As I stated before, this four month drama had been a struggle. I buckled down and reviewed my “how to write a synopsis and query” notes from my writing conference, and read online examples and blogs about what agents liked and disliked. I finally admitted defeat and started working backwards, from the end to the beginning. It seemed the best idea, since I had thirty various beginnings I couldn’t seem to finish. Surprisingly, it worked. The backwards plan was a success.

I owe another big thank you to a writing friend I met at the conference, Christy. She overlooked these latest thorns in my side… aka query letter and synopsis, and provided me with even more feedback. It was the advice I needed (again) and after implementing her suggestions, I finished. It truly takes a village…

Now, today—three and a half years later, I am ready with a completed manuscript, a completed query letter, and a completed synopsis. I have a list of agents to send everything off to, and I’m attaching my armor of thick skin because I know all about the dance of rejections. I’ve posted about this topic, as well,(https://stepsinbetween.com/2017/10/23/rainy-analogy-to-counter-rejection/).

I am fully aware of the commercialism that goes with publishing. It is now a product that has to sell. It is a business. I get it. But, this frightens me even more. I go back and forth between, “My story is just a simple, sweet story to entertain, to escape a little reality and enjoy… to, my story is beautifully written and shares some real-life concepts… to, this is a dumb story about a couple of teenagers, the stakes aren’t high enough, who would want to read it?” Fear.

But even in fear, there are possibilities; maybes… what-if’s… you never know’s. And even through upset stomach aches, stress, and fear, I can’t help but smile at the journey I’ve been on so far. This path has taken me around bends and down into valleys, but also up hills and along beautiful scenery. I’ve seen cold rainy days, but also bright sunny days, and all of them have taken me another step closer to my dream.

I have no idea what will happen. But, this is my writing journey, and the possibilities are endless.

This book may fly and be picked up by an agent who sells it to a big publishing house. It may take its flight to a charming Indie house and find its home there. Or it could flop. But I’ve read about (and even know) plenty of authors who have found success on the self-publishing route. Beatrix Potter, for one. The point is, I am eager and excited for this story to find its wings, however that comes about.

Oh, the possibilities!

wings

Images used in this post:

Possibilities image – http://interpersonalwellness.com/coaching-possibilities/

NANOWRIMO Image – https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=wHfdTI0z&id=68DF3D83F55654E313EE5A3D1B62123B23AC1EC3&thid=OIP.wHfdTI0zv52wiLLNSPO0lwEPEs&q=NANOWRIMO&simid=608034793946874090&selectedindex=2&mode=overlay&first=1

Find your wings and fly (Etsy) image – https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=Vwc8rzIt&id=F2A356C283DEC65F181459DAAC0266EF84C5B54F&thid=OIP.Vwc8rzItfWmoT-VewkMizwDdEs&q=finding+wings&simid=608046398933566390&selectedIndex=30&ajaxhist=0

Categories: Thoughts on writing...

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1 reply

  1. It’s not too late to follow up on that PNWA conference agent interest. They get swamped right after. Now their desks may be a little cleaner, and their attention more ready. Congratulations on getting to this place! Kudos!

    Like

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