Friday, April 28, 2006

The Long & Winding Road

They say life is a journey not a destination. So to is the mangled writing process. If you get to your destination (sell a book), it's because of the road that led you there. No one just walks out the door and sells a book to the editor perched on their patio. (Don't point it out if anyone does because it will just upset me.) They head out, get their map and get into the car. They take a few detours, get lost, circle around, stop for food or silly pictures with a roadside attraction... Somedays they fly down the interstate at 80 mph, some days they get stuck behind a big piece of farm equipment on a two lane country road where they can't pass. (Can you tell I live in a rural area?)

For me, it has been a long and occasionally frustrating drive filled with ups and downs, curves and the occasional dead end. I don't know that I will ever reach the big red X that symbolizes the big sale, but I know that I am much better prepared than I was when I left the house.

Today when I leave work, I'm mailing my revised partial out. I've spent the better part of two months sweating over every detail. Cutting, pasting, revising, elaborating...I'm surprised the story still makes sense after all the alterations I've made. I sent the revision out to the Playfriends for a reality check before it hits the mail. The verdict: MUCH better than the first one. WHEW - I hope the editor agrees! I know we all like to think that our first draft may be perfect, but there's always room for improvement. (If you don't think so, pull out an MS you wrote a couple years ago and see if you don't cringe.)

As I complete my revisions for the full request I hope will come, I know that I could not have written the book I have without the winding path I've taken. Hopefully my next journey will be that much shorter for the knowledge I gained on this trip. How about your journey? How has it made you a better writer?


PS - Don't forget to enter our March/April Contest to Win a Day at the Beach (almost!) There's Tim McGraw sand up for grabs here! If you entered our January/February contest, be sure to enter again!


J.B. Thompson said...

I started my first book when I was 16 years old and it took me 16 years and the grace of God to finish it. But I learned so much about writing along that particular journey that I knew it was the way I had to go. I wrote the second one in less than a year.

For me, joining a writers' group was the best thing I could have done. My style and voice have matured so much over the last few years, and I'm writing material I know I would never have been capable of if it hadn't been for the wonderful women of my critique group. I'd highly recommend that for any writer who wants to improve their craft. (The Playfriends here are a prime example - their obvious comraderie is heartwarming and encouraging.)

I can't say the journey hasn't had a few bumps and curves, but it's definitely been worth the ride!

Problem Child said...

A) Way to go SP! Yes, the revised version is great.

B) You're too young for this to have been a "long" journey. But, okay, it can be metaphorically long...

C) I think this current trip is teaching me confidence--confidence laced with fear and doubt--but confidence nonetheless.

Smarty Pants said...

Ok - so the road is not as long as some others, but it hasn't been a short jaunt either! I may be the baby, but I've been at this for years. It FEELS long. How about that? :)

Angel said...

At this point, I'm beginning to wonder where that big X is located. I'm getting really confused as to the target (yes, I want to sell, but to whom).

That in itself has put quite a few bumps on the road. There have been some great peaks, and not a few valleys. But the longer I travel, the greater my perseverence. It helps to caravan. I can just picture the Playfriends cars chugging along toward the goal.

With this in mind, I'd like to offer congratulations to my fellow Playfriends-Kimberly and Kira-who finalled with me in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence. Keep chugging, ladies!


Playground Monitor said...

I hear ya, Angel. The book I was working on no longer fits the line I was targetting so it's on the back burner. Oh who am I kidding. It's not even on the stove anymore. But I try to write something every day to keep the tires from going flat.


Linda Winstead Jones said...

I think the journey for all of us starts long before we have any idea what path we're on. That book we read when we're five years old, the childhood daydream we prefer to television, the first book we read that makes us cry and breaks our heart.

I also believe there is no X. Not that we're all wandering aimlessly about. :-) OK, there's an X, but when you reach it you discover there's another, even better X somewhere else.

LJ -- rambling again, and I can't blame lack of caffeine at this time of day. :-)

Instigator said...

Have any of you heard Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flats? That's what I think about when I contemplate the writing road. There have been some major detours along my path. But at each stop has taught me something new, prepared me for the moment when I get my dream. The best stop for me? Meeting the playfriends!!