Last week, I started to explain why I’m not yet published and what I’m going to do about it. Here’s the next part of that explanation.
Often, when my clients first discover I’m a writer, they Google me to see what I have published. Of course, they can’t find anything, because I’m not yet published. Why not? I’ve never tried. It’s not that I didn’t want to. In fact, my query letter was all ready and my synopses were completed. I had a list of agents I wanted to contact, but something didn’t let me pull the trigger. I knew my YA novels weren’t up to snuff and neither were my first couple of romantic suspense novels. So, those puppies will forever sit on my hard drive, unless I’m extremely bored and want to pretty much rewrite them. Ugh. Not sure about that. Besides, I have tons of other ideas, so I don’t know that I’ll even look at those again, but they’re there, just in case.
What about my latest novel? I’d rewritten it a few times, changing the villain and some of the characters or plot elements. Wasn’t it ready? No. Sadly, it wasn’t. I had attempted to put a little bit of everything into the plot, so the story resembled a kitchen sink more than a novel. That’s what I got from trying too hard. Luckily, I recognized the issues before I wasted an agent’s time. And a couple of great critique partners helped me find my way out of that mess. Thanks, Amy Lamont and Katie Graykowski*.
Unfortunately, this meant another rewrite. Bleh. At this point, I was so sick of the characters and the story that I wasn’t motivated to start again. And, honestly, I wouldn’t recommend reworking the same book as often as I have. Seriously. Move on to the next book. It’ll be much better, and you’ll feel the passion again. Why couldn’t I take my own advice? Simple. Just like when I was a little kid, I had a dream. I could see the story unfold. I felt like my characters were real people, because I knew them that well. And, most importantly, I really believed in this story. I just couldn’t give up on it without trying one last time.
But that decision was part of what kept me from writing. I just wasn’t motivated to rework that same story again, even though I knew I had to if I wanted to give it a chance at getting published. I even tried to work on another book, which I was also excited about, but I just couldn’t shake this one. So, I allowed life to take over. I figured I needed some space from the book, and when I got busy with my editorial business, I let writing almost completely slip from my life. Bad me, I know.
Then, something happened. One of my clients was having serious talks with a NY publisher, one that I’ll definitely be targeting. And a little voice went off in my head. That should be you. Of course, the thought wasn’t meant to take anything away from my client. I was extremely excited for her. It was more of an awakening. I was motivated to write again, and I completed about half of the book, before I allowed self-doubt to take over. At this point, my critique partners and I had stopped exchanging pages. We’d all become too busy to critique. As a result, the positive reinforcement and uplifting cheers were gone. My parents and husband, as much as they’d love to support me, believe that writing is a hobby. Don’t you just hate that “h” word? I often heard something like this, “Editing is your career, and you need to focus on your clients and their writing, not your own.” In a way, they’re right. There’s no guarantee I’ll ever become traditionally published, and I certainly haven’t given them any reason to feel I have a chance. So, I can’t blame them.
However, when you don’t have people supporting you and encouraging you in this lonely industry, it’s easy to allow self-doubt to rule your world. I did. Plus, I found it difficult to add writing time into my busy schedule. I’m working on client manuscripts during the day, so I’d have to write in the evening or at night. I couldn’t exactly ask my husband to make supper and watch the kids so I could write. He’s understanding, but that would be pushing it. The guy has a very stressful and tiring job, so that wouldn’t be a fair request. We’re partners, and we do things together.
So, how do I continue my dream and find time to write? You’ll have to wait until next week to find out when I talk about how to motivate the writer in you.
*Note: I’ve had many other fantastic critique partners and groups along the way, but Amy and Katie helped me with the current version of my WIP.