Monday, April 18, 2011

So, about that writing thing...

Once upon a time I finished a book.  Well, actually, I thought I'd finished the book back in 2009--it was book-length, after all, and hefted impressively in my hand.  I'd even gone through and rewritten a bit.  So I started the querying process--which means that I sent out letters and sample pages to about seven agents and asked if they'd want to represent me (to get a big publisher, you need an agent, and I'd love an expert on my side for the business end of things regardless).  Anyway, a big agency in Great Britain wanted to see my full manuscript.  I sent it.  And they emailed me back saying something like:

"You're great with tension and writing, but the middle has no plot and your characters still need a lot of work."

I read through my manuscript again.  And they were being generous.

So I rewrote.  Every day.  I made a chart, re-plotted each section (especially the middle), rewrote each chapter, reread the manuscript, highlighted characters in different colors, reworked each character, rewrote again...repeat twice more, add some salt, and I started querying a much more polished manuscript at the start of this year.  This time I waited, and I reread the whole thing last week (my kindest of husbands watched the kids, and I had a can of A&W root beer to keep me company).  It's good this time--at least, I would've liked it when I was a kid (I like it now, in fact), and that's what I want: to keep readers up past their bedtimes and help them feel the companionship I enjoyed from my favorite authors growing up.  And rewriting, I found, is fun.  It's taking the bad and making it good.  It's creative.  It's fulfilling.

Querying isn't nearly as fun as writing.  Still, I have out a full and a partial right now, and I've decided to pause and watch for those responses before I go bug anyone else.

Waiting's hard.  It's an exercise in patience, in taking deep breaths and distracting myself.  I wanted my novel to be a first-person narrative about someone else, like Bruce Brook's The Moves Make the Man or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  But I also wanted to write fantasy, because I love reading fantasy most, and I found it's awfully fun to write what I read.  The result is Swindle Witch, except it might not be titled that forever because I suck at titles.

I've started on my second novel, because it's good to move on.  The initial chapter's rough, but first drafts are.  I learned that last time.  And the only way to get to the rewriting is to write.

So, in the vein of showing how I manage to write, here's my picture for today.  It's the only clock my three-year-old will listen to.  It keeps him in his room for his Quiet Time and mommy's Writing Time:

He glows red when you touch his helmet.  He beeps, but if he played the Darth Vader theme when his alarm went off, he'd be absolutely perfect.

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