Yep, I'm still kickin' down the cobblestones.... stone by stone on this writerly path. It's a bizarre state of existence, isn't it?? I'm just so eternally grateful to have y'all on board with me and keeping me motivated. If writing and publication is the cake, all of you are certainly the icing.
Go on and treat yourself to a slice of lemon cake. It's %100 calorie free. See there! Do I love ya or what??
I mentioned before that I'm on the query roller coaster. Well, I'm thinking of hopping off for a bit. Just so I can immerse myself into my new project. I did receive some partial requests and even a full, which meant the agents liked my story idea and my query (huge plus!) but once they had the actual story, didn't connect with it.
Which tells me I still have work to do. Of course, each agent has their own taste and another agent may feel differently... yada, yada, yada .... we know the drill. The key factor to me, is that the stories just didn't sparkle as they should. And that's okay, because I'm still writing and I've learned something from each story I've written.
My first novel length story I ever wrote, Through the Fern Glade, was just me learning how to tell a story through the written word. Was it or is it publishable? Uh, that would be a big fat NEGATIVE. But still, I love, love, love that story because it was part of my growth.
The Mistake was my second story and it was much better (and shorter) but I hadn't fully understood the craft of writing. I could tell a story, but the writing was amateur. That story taught me I could crank out a story fast and let the words flow.
The 49th Parallel taught me how to plot. I still believe in this story and plan to go back and rewrite it some day. I learned that plot is important, and a good one is fantastic. But you still need strong characters for the reader to invest in. That's where I fell short in this story. I kicked butt with the action, suspense, and plot, but my characters were weak. I wasn't spending enough time with them.
Then I wrote Float. And in writing Float I focused on really developing my characters. I think I pulled it off too... well, for the most part I did, considering it was my first character-driven tale. And yes I queried this one because I fell in love with the characters, and I really believed in the story. I had a few requests and apparently none of the agents fell in love with it the way I did. So it's taught me I still have work to do.
Starsong I full on poured myself into for NaNoWriMo. I had a tale to tell and I was ready. I got that first draft down in a month's time and spent the next few months revising--even won a few critiques from published authors and an agent. From this story I learned that I can write. That's good. One less thing to worry about, right? But after many queries sent and only one request so far which was rejected based on overall story pacing, I realize I ain't there yet.
There's always work to do. Writers never stop learning, always honing our craft. But where I'm at right now tells me I've come a loooong way, and I need to get back to work. So far, no one has fallen in love with my work. So I haven't found that IT factor yet. In short, here's what I've learned:
* Figure out a kick-arse, tight plot
* Develop your characters so that you fall head over heels for them
* Pick up the pace. Just keep throwing conflict at your characters and keep the story moving (trim the fat)
* YA contemporary is a very tough sell
After realizing just how tough a sell it is, I'm calling it a day with that genre. It was an important genre for me to experiment with along my path because it taught me how to develop my characters. But my true passion is in fantasy, and it seems like those are the kinds of stories readers want anyway. Heck, it's the kind of stories I want. I'm really going to focus on writing a story that I'd like to read.
Which I'm doing now. I've been world building since the year began and I'm ready to dive in and start writing my first draft. I may still query Starsong as the year goes by. I'm not giving up, just refocusing.
What about you? How has your path come along? Some of you are published and some not. Are there any lessons you've learned that you'd like to share? Enlighten us, please....