Thursday, August 9, 2012

"When I'm awfully low..."

As you can surely tell from this web site, I am a yet unpublished novelist. No surprise there, but it feels freeing to declare it. 

When I created this blog-turned-web site a few months ago, I was thinking of The Future, of establishing my authorial web presence prior to acquiring an agent and a publishing deal.  Ha, ha, ha.  Authorial presence.  There's that catch-22...I'm not a published author yet so I don't really have authorial "street cred," and I can post (hopefully) thoughtful tidbits about the Victorian period and such, but there are so many varying directions I could go AND, frankly, sometimes it seems like all of those directions are already well covered. 

History? I'll pass along some wonderful links that cover Victorian history and occasionally post new things I uncover myself.

Victorian minutea? Yup, there are some great web sites devoted to that too, and I'll gladly pass them along....and, again, maybe post things I stumble upon myself. 

The craft of writing? Again, there seems little point to me giving fledgling writers advice when I'm not published yet either (well, there was that one flash fiction piece in an online publication)...and, again, there are lots of other web sites that already talk craft quite effectively.

So what do I, neophyte and fellow wanderer in the darkness, have to offer blog readers?

Me, I suppose...which raises its own conundrum. 

I'm not prone to self-disclosure, even in "real life." You don't need--or want--to know what pedestrian ups and downs are going on in my offline existence.  And I'm reluctant to chronicle my querying experience in detail (not because it's bad--it isn't--but it's personal...and, if it doesn't result in a happy ending, I won't want to relive the experience in detail).

But what I can give you at the moment is this: 

Some days, I have doubts. Some days, my writerly insecurity looms large and paralyzes me. Some days, I think I should quit. "You're a hack." "Why bother?" "Everything you wrote today sucked." "Everything you've ever written sucks."

Then I go back and read some success stories that remind me of how long and arduous the process of publishing can be.  As I tell students (and new-er writers), good writing is a multi-stage process, two keys to which are the desire to keep learning and growing AND the work of revising.  Few people are naturally good writers. The rest of us need time and practice to learn how to write well...we need to ferret out our personal weak spots (whether that's sentence structure, plotting, pacing, etc.) and learn how to improve upon them.  This isn't a sprint; it's a cross-country run, and every moment holds an opportunity for growth and insight.

As a strong example, here is Sherry Thomas's story about her path to the debut of Private Arrangements so many moons ago.  Starting with that fabulous debut, her rise as a historical romance novelist has been astronomical, including TWO back-to-back wins of the RWA's prestigious RITA Award.  I've followed her career since she first became represented by Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency (because I was, and still am, an avid follower of Kristin's Pub Rants blog). But her story shows that her path to initial publication wasn't smooth and easy. And it gives me hope. 

I hope it does the same for you.

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