Preface: After squeeing with me about getting an agent, my critique partner, Jeannie Campbell, said, “You better be writing all this down.” So during my blogging hiatus, I wrote a couple posts that ended up being a journal of sorts. If you’re interested in my writing journey, here it is:
There was a point when I started writing: the beginning.
There was a point when my agent offered representation: the first doorway.
All you Plot and Structure fans out there know what I’m talking about. The first doorway – something Mr. Bell refers to as the point of no return. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?
I look at this time period, from penning my first novel to acquiring representation, as the first act of my writing story.
My first act lasted about three and a half years. Sure, I’ve had a love affair with writing since third grade, but my inciting event didn’t occur until the summer of 2006 when I traveled to Nairobi, Kenya and came home with a story bursting inside me.
Writing that first story was like falling in love. I knew next to nothing of what I was doing. I just wrote. All day. Sometimes late into the night. It was romantic and heady and exhilarating and by the end of the summer, I had my first novel. I printed it out. My husband took a picture of me hugging the thick stack of pages. And I was convinced I’d be the next Francine Rivers (okay, that’s a gross exaggeration, but still, I was ignorantly blissful). I bought Sally Stuart’s market guide, wondered, “What in the heck is a query?”, and started submitting. Not to agents. To publishers.
I got one bite. A publishing house requested the full. More than a little giddy, I sent it off, convinced this was it. They’d read my story, love it just as much as my mom, and I’d be on a shelf by next spring. Imagine my shock when not more than two weeks after sending it, I came home from my summer job and saw my glorious manuscript sitting in the mailbox with a very polite thanks, but no thanks.
My husband and I scratched our heads. How could they pass this up? The answer eluded me. So I set aside my disappointment and pounded out the first fifty pages of what would be my second novel. Then fall semester started. Visions of being a teacher consumed me. As High as the Heavens went on a shelf, occasionally resurrected for a curious, interested reader friend, and those first fifty pages of novel number two sat forgotten on my hardrive. For two years.
Sure, I thought about writing. All sorts of ideas would float inside my brain. Sometimes I’d even open up Microsoft Word and play around. But mostly, life had its way. I graduated from college (go Badgers!), landed a fifth grade teaching job in my hometown, moved back to Iowa with hubby and Bubba. Spent the summer preparing to be the best fifth grade teacher EVER! Talk about enthusiasm – I went so far as to construct a time machine out of a large refrigerator box, copious amounts of tin foil, and a flashing red police light. I think my coworkers thought I was nuts, but you should have seen how round my students’ eyes got that first day they walked into my classroom. I got pregnant in February of 2008. Finished my first year of teaching. Opened up that 50-paged forgotten novel, and finished it in a month and a half.
My second novel. Validation that I had more than one story inside me. Instead of querying more publishing houses, I submitted the first fifteen pages to a professional critiquing service – the first time I’d subjected myself to objective feedback. And thus, I entered what I refer to as, “The Learning Time.”
I look forward to sharing this part of my journey in Wednesday’s post. Until then…
Questions to Ponder: How did your writing journey start? What was the inciting event that hurled you into this crazy story?removetweetmeme