So once more I find myself at a cross roads in my writing career, trying to find a way forward with something that will sell. Hell at this point, I’m thrilled to have sold a freakin article.
If anyone had suggested to me that I would still not only be unsold at this point (4 years and 11 manuscripts later) I would have said no way. It CAN’T be that hard. And to be fair, of all 11 manuscripts, only 2 have gone out (and quite honestly, neither should have but I couldn’t see it at the time).
See here’s the thing. At one point in every writer’s career, but more than likely before the honesty truck has hit them, they all think their stuff is brilliant (raises hand). Course, I don’t think I’m a crappy writer but I can honestly sit here and tell you that writing fiction is a world different from writing nonfiction and I’ve learned an incredible amount in the last 4 years. Until I could look at my manuscript and truly see the issues there, I wasn’t ready to go.
Hell, I might still not be. I’m not giving up, but I am trying something new.
Brace for it.
I’m trying synopses. Before I write the book.
While that might not surprise those of you who plot, when I sit down and write, I’m definitely a seat of the pants, lets see where the story takes me kind of girl. The end result? I throw the whole thing out and start over, often with nothing more than a single scene and character names. That’s it.
That’s time consuming. In Iraq last year, I rewrote all 4 of my military series (have not revised any of them) because the originals were all over the place. I have no idea what the second drafts look like because I haven’t gone back and looked at them. Funny thing about writing a series, if the first one don’t sell, the rest probably won’t either. But that’s not where the honesty comes in.
I’m sitting here today waiting on feedback from my agent on ideas. Blurbs if you will for what he thinks might be saleable. Because what I don’t want to do is spend another 2 years writing a book that may or may not fit the market and may or may not sell. I’m willing to do that, if that’s what it takes, but right now, I’m hoping he’ll look at my ideas and go ‘write this one’. The reason I sent him the idea sheet is because my amazingly brutal critique partner basically laid it out for me.
She said ‘you are married to this idea. I’ve got a ton of boxes filled with ideas that my agent said won’t sell.’
And wow, was she right on the money. I’ve spent the last few months working on my paranormal, my end of the world, apocalypse book that plays to my military strengths and my religious studies background (and my perennial obsession with the apocalypse). But if it doesn’t sell, what good is it? I love it but I’m hoping to someday make a living at writing, right? I mean, that’s what I’m telling the IRS, so I think it kind of has to be true.
So if I want to write for a living, guess what? I need to write something that sells. And I can’t justify spending time on a project that is essentially a hobby (granted, I LOVE this story but still).
But the brutal honesty came in the form of my critique partner, lovingly and harshly telling me “get over it.”
Sucks but its true. We have a different way of saying it in the army: suck it up and drive on. So now, I’m waiting, hopeful that all of my ideas don’t suck. Because if I’m willing to suck it up for this long, I can’t very well ignore the honesty that forces me to face reality? I’m a pragmatist. Which means I’m waiting to hear back from my agent and we’ll see where we go from there.