Today I've been thinking a lot about where I started and where I am now -- writing-wise. Some days I feel like I've come a long way, others I feel like I'm back at the beginning. Writing isn't easy to learn, whether you're taking classes or not. I haven't taken any formal classes, but I have looked up many educational resources online, and I've learned so much from them. The process has been fun, tiring, exciting, and heart-breaking. I love it, but I'll admit, it's certainly been a struggle.
In September of 2011, I completed the first draft of my first novel. It was very rough, and needed a lot of love. I revised for over a year - literally. But in retrospect I didn't know what I was doing. In October of 2012 I was just thinking I might start to query, when I had a twitter buddy (who became a good friend because of this) read it. She is absolutely brilliant. She's very well-read and has a lot of experience with publishing. Which I, at that point, did not have. (Her name's Marieke, if you want to go see how awesome she really is.)
She came back and had ripped my baby to shreds. Plot holes everywhere, cliches on every page, weak writing, and a confusing storyline -- it spun in my head for days. I was nowhere near as ready as I thought I'd been. I attempted to salvage it, but realized I'd need some space to do so. At about 65,000 words, THE SIGHT got shelved.
***Let me just pause here to say this was a hard thing to go through. It was my first experience with, "why am I doing this?" and "I'm a terrible writer," and "why should I bother?" But Marieke not only showed me the hard knocks of publishing, she also lifted me back up. It was her telling me, "KEEP WRITING," that actually kept me writing. I owe her a lot. <3***
In January of 2013 I began drafting my second novel. I finished the first draft by March, and sent it to beta readers. Again I had a lot of cliches and tropes and plot holes, but because I caught them early on I was able to fix them and revised that story into something I'm now extremely proud of. At 77,000 words, TARGET has gotten a great response in the Query Trenches so far, and it's not done yet.
In January of 2014 I started drafting my third novel. (Keep in mind I'd also started-and-not-finished two or three other novel ideas at this point, and written a number of short stories.) When I started SUMMON I felt like I knew my process and I could make this work for me. I managed a first draft in three months and sent it to my first round of readers.
The feedback I got was overwhelming and amazing all at once. It took me days to sort through it and come to terms with the fact that this story needed a big overhaul. When I began that first round of revisions, I never imagined it would take as long as it has. Granted I've gone through a lot of mentally and emotionally taxing stuff this year (some of which you know about), but still. I've been revising since May, and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what this book could be.
SUMMON is currently sitting at 95,000 words -- the longest novel I've yet written. And to be honest, I'm terrified. There is so much to this story, so much I could dive into to give it depth and strength, so much that I'm not sure I've even touched on yet.
Is this what happens when you learn how to write? I mean, I knew this would be a tough one to get right, but I never thought it would grow to be what it is. At this point my mind has a hard time holding all of the information I need in order to write it! My stories have grown with every story I write, not just in word count (thought that's the most visible variable), but in complexity and depth and even (dare I say it) quality.
I just finished re-writing chapter 30 of 38, so I *think* I'm nearly done with the big-issue stuff. After that it'll be a matter of polishing and tweaking so I can send it to my next round of beta readers (who have literally been waiting since August for this to be done... sorry) and move on. Cross your fingers that I'll be able to finish this by early November, so I can write something else for NaNoWriMo and get some distance before I go in for the polishing pass.
That's my publishing story... part one.
I'll let you know when Part Two comes along.