I call myself a writer.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve felt more comfort communicating through reading and writing than through listening and talking. I had, in fact, picked up my fluency in the English language largely through reading novels written for children – whose characters couldn’t jump out and taunt me for using or pronouncing words inappropriately. Trying to interact with my actual peers, on the other hand, caused me plenty of emotional trauma.
After college, armed with an English degree, I completed a novel for middle grade readers (ages 8-12), drawing from my own experiences. I then took several more years to revise and polish it to my satisfaction. It felt like big accomplishment.
Only then did I realize that getting this manuscript published will likely be even harder than writing the book! For a brief summary on how traditional publishing works, click here.
For the subsequent two or three years, I invested time in looking up appropriate publishers and sending query letters to them about my book. Then I became aware that most publishers will not take a manuscript seriously unless it came to them from a literary agent.
Various writing groups that I joined, and a number of university extension courses on the writing profession that I took, provided insights on how to refine my query letters and format my manuscript to the specifications of each agent. I heeded warnings on how to distinguish legitimate agents from the ones who charge fees before doing any work for clients, who drop names and boast of huge advances. I contacted masses of the former and received only two or three offers to read my actual manuscript. All resulted in rejections.
At a literary conference I attended in Portland, Oregon in 2008, I finally managed to meet agents in person, and capture the interest of one who offered to read my book manuscript.
However, feeling that my main character was “too perfect”, she asked me to have that character make some mistakes through a new revision.
I followed my instincts and spent the subsequent year adding a new subplot to explore my main character’s growth through trial and error. It lengthened my manuscript by eight chapters, and some new subject matter made it more appropriate for slightly older readers (ages 10-14). But this character growth satisfied my instincts much more than the previous version had.
Unfortunately, my agent did not agree. She informed me that she was now unable sell this new version, and promptly withdrew her offer of representation.
Months passed by before I recovered from my devastation. I eventually resumed the process of querying agents. However, the publishing world had been changing throughout the time I took to revamp my manuscript. The rise of the Internet and alternate formats for publishing materials – such as e-books – had altered the scope of traditional publishing. Roles played by the author, the literary agent, and the publisher were no longer what I had previously understood. Authors now needed to shoulder the brunt of promotion (making their work known to the public), well before those books are put on the market.
For me, this is the scariest part of being a writer – even now that the Internet allows me to do a good portion of this promotion in writing.
So this blog will be my newest venture. Its formal purpose will be creating a constant dialogue with my reading audience, along with sharing bits and pieces of my writing process. I hope to include how other aspects in my life shapes my writing, and, in turn, the impact that this process has made on that life.
My other purpose for this blog will be keeping friends and acquaintances – both old and new – up to date on what’s currently happening in my life. I hope to find a steady rhythm for posting here within a short amount of time. Please check back every so often for updates!