Tuesday, January 1, 2013
IWSG Post--What To Do When The Tank Is Out Of Gas And There's Nothing But Hills Ahead...
This is an IWSG post, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. For more inspiring posts, visit... http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html
As you all may have guessed, my title is a metaphor for a common problem I think we all share as writers. When we we're deep into our WIP and all the magic is gone, we're running on fumes, and there's no coasting, but all climbing, what are we to do? Well, first, eat lots of chocolate and say a prayer. That's what I do anyway. But comfort food and time on our knees will only take us so far. Eventually, we have to put on our wading boots and sift through the muck.
It was a little over four years ago that I started my first draft of Sebastian Falls. If I had given up at the first hill I came to, then I'd have never written a word. Why? Well, because I didn't own a computer, not even an old school typewriter. All I had was this story begging to be written, a pencil, and four blank notebooks. That's right, I wrote my first draft of Sebastian Falls entirely by hand. But I knew if I wrote the story, then one day it would get published. Only me being a naive rookie, I thought I'd get published as soon as I typed my first draft. Boy was I in for heartbreak.
As soon as I finished the story, a friend took pity on me. She had an old computer collecting dust in her garage and let me have it. I was pumped! I typed every chance I had. I'd stay up into the wee hours, tapping my story out. Even when the dinosaur desktop started smoking and the wires crackling, I kept going. Miraculously, I manged to get it all typed without the dang thing catching fire.
After I finished, someone, I can't remember who, told me I needed an agent. Sure, piece of cake. I bought a book of agents and a cheap laptop. Then the kiss of death...I thought I could woo my top ten list of hot shot agents over the phone. I can't remember how many I called, but needless to say, I got the same response from all of them. "You need to write a query letter." So, I did, but it took forever to get it halfway right.
A long time into my search, an agent requested my full. But I needed to do rewrites. I ended up rewriting my whole story, but the agent dropped out of the business before I could submit my darling to her. That was a huge setback to my psyche. The world was ending, or so I thought.
For awhile, I gave up writing. Actually, I intended to never write again, but my heart had other plans. It wouldn't let me throw away my dreams. But it also wouldn't let me submit my story as is. Nope, my manuscript still needed work, so I started another rewrite. That time, in first person/present tense. And to refuel my gas tank, to give me a boost, I decided to query an agent that my dear friend, Elizabeth Seckman, told me about. Elizabeth helped me write a better letter then I sent it to said agent. Elizabeth knew I wasn't finished with my rewrite, so she said, "I hope you get caught with your pants down. I hope that agent requests your full and lights a fire under your butt." Guess what? That's exactly what happened. So, I told agent I needed to rework my ending. She had no clue I was about 50k words short.
I tapped out those 50k in a month then sent it to the interested agent. Six weeks later, she set up an appointment to chat with me over the phone. I'd never known an agent to waste time on phone calls, so I thought she was prepared to offer me representation. Except, our phone call never happened. The agent rescheduled three times, but in the end, she sent me an email to say she didn't want to rep me. Again, I found myself wanting to give up and did, but only for a few days.
After I worked up a fresh batch of courage, I started querying again, but this time, I added a few publishers to the lineup. Six weeks later, World Castle Publishing offered me a contract, and I said YESSSSS! My point to the whole story: Don't ever give up on your dreams, no matter how low you feel, or how many hills are ahead of you! We are but a small piece to the bigger puzzle, and Someone far bigger than we are is in control. We have no right to give up on our destiny, but the privilege to fulfill it.
I hope this inspires somebody to keep going. Until the next time, happy writing, friends.