I’ve been working on getting published since 2007. Late 2007 to be fair, but 2007 nonetheless. It is now 2010 and I remain not only unpublished but unagented as well.
We’re talking 3 years now that I have been working toward something I have yet to achieve. While I had an agent for a brief smattering of time and it was a huge learning experience for me, I still remain essentially where I was in November 2007 when I first wrote The End.
This is not bad. Frustrating? Yes. But not bad.
Repeat after me. Not being published for me, at this point, is not bad. Looking back on everything I have learned in the last 3 years, the amount of change I have undergone as a writer is phenomenal. I know I am stronger today than I was in January 2008 when I had my first partial request (thank you Stephanie Evans). She was the very first agent who said send me your stuff and oh by the way, its not quite there yet.
I am glad she and the others have passed. I know this sounds like sarcasm but it is not. To be honest, I would not want to look back on that first book and see it in print. It was beyond terrible. I had no business querying it but I couldn’t see it.
The second book I queried, I see much improvement in. But I still have much to learn. While I would like to see this book in print because I believe in the story and the characters, if it does not happen, I’m okay with that.
I look at my writing career as a bit of self torture. The more brutal the critique, the harder it is to look at it and say, okay, what’s really going on. But being able to look at those comments, when you’re fortunate enough to get them, and learn from them is a key piece of growth for any writer. So no matter that comments are brutal, are they true? Being able to determine not if they are but why they are or are not is the key lesson to learn.
As I dig into revisions on my 3rd project that I’m going to query, I find myself looking at huge chunks of text and saying, I really don’t need this. Its cool info but it does nothing to advance the plot. Cut. This, I could put into dialogue and show. Revise. This makes my character look like a coward but I need the scene. Fix.
Being able to look at my manuscript and not love everything about it is a huge lesson for me. Major. Culling 30 pages is not easy but in my case as I found with the first 100 pages, necessary. Being able to see that it’s necessary without my fab critique partner Julie thumping me over the head with the printed manuscript, even better.
So in the 3 years since I decided “I’m a writer” I’ve learned a ton. I’ve had an amazing amount of support from fellow writers, offering advice, guidance and, quite often, a shoulder to cry on. I will continue to learn and grow. And in the event that an agent decides to take me on, neuroses and all, I will endeavor to keep learning.
At the end of the day, that’s all I can control.