Check out my writing journey: part one.
There was honestly a part of my brain, thoughts I’d never think out loud (until now), that believed I’d get back that 15-page critique and hear: Why aren’t you published yet? I have no advice to give you. This stuff is fabulous! In fact, let me put you in contact with my agent.
I cannot believe I just admitted this, but for the sake of being transparent, there ya go. Please don’t think me horribly arrogant. I just loved writing and loved the stories I’d written and like I said in Monday’s post, I was ignorantly blissful.
So what did that first critique look like?
Let’s just say my cheeks flamed red when I read through the five pages (single spaced) of feedback from my first-ever objective reader. I found myself whipping through the pages, thinking things like, “Head hopping? What in the world is head hopping?” The critiquer, who was very gracious, told me at one point I’d gone so far as to bring the reader inside the dog’s head. To which my response was, “Is that wrong?”
I’m laughing as I type this. I really had no clue. And why would I? I’d never read a craft book. Never received any instruction on writing. My only guidance as a Christian fiction writer had been Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury, and that came in two varieties: paperback and hard cover.
By this point, writing had begun to move up in my list of priorities. I found the more I invested in it, the more in love with it I grew. So I was determined to learn.
I went to the library and checked out a substantial stack of writing books. I read Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell. I read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. I read others that I can’t remember, and walked away with my head spinning and a proper perspective of just how far I had to go. My writing suddenly didn’t look so hot on this side of awareness.
So I revised my novels. Both of them. (Little did I know this would be the first of many, many revisions). Started my second year of teaching. Had Brogan in October of 2008, and life turned upside down for a period of about two months. That new Mommy period when priorities and dreams lay buried beneath poopy diapers and bleary eyes and burp towels and a patch of worn carpet in the hallway. When I resurfaced, my pull toward writing had tripled. Maybe it was my son in my arms. Maybe it was all the late nights reflecting on how I wanted to live my life. I’m not sure, but I jumped in, determined not to look back.
After 12 weeks, I went back to school and wrote my third novel: Beneath a Velvet Sky. I found this fabulous online community called ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I found my first critique partner. And I started this thing called a blog, to announce to the world that yes, I was a writer, and yes, I wanted to chase after publication, and no, there would be no guarantees. Imagine my surprise when I discovered an entire community of bloggers, all just as crazy as me, chasing after the same dream.
The Learning Time continued in earnest, picking up steam. I entered a prestigious writing contest. I entered all THREE of my manuscripts (this is the first time I’ve admitted this…and no, not one of them finaled). I finished my second year of teaching. I hurled myself into the summer, revising all three of my manuscripts one at a time. I read every writing craft book known to man. I devoured them like a pack of starving piranhas. You name it, I’m sure I read it. I paid for another professional critique. I found a mentor. I revised some more. Revised so much, in fact, that my brain got all twisted and fuzzy.
As much as I wanted to query, as much as I wanted to submit my work to agents (a process I was beginning to understand now that I’d done my research) I held back. I had it in my head that I would wait until I went to the ACFW writing conference. So I waited. Excitedly.
And in September, I flew to Denver. Little did I know that the doorway out of Act 1 was enticingly close.
More on that next time…
Question to Ponder: What steps have you taken to grow as a writer?removetweetmeme