Sunday, January 07, 2007

Question I Have a Question

5:30 am and 74 degrees. I know. It's Sunday. I should be asleep but I have so much more inspiration in the morning. Thank you bloggers for your input as to my blogging regularity. I will focus on blogging when i have something of import to say, questions to answer and photos to post speaking of which I will take Sunday off from that particular pleasure. Boy try to diagram THAT sentence!
One of my well wishers has left a comment that has also been asked on other forums. I thought this would be a good opportunity to chat about it.

"When did you begin revising your original manuscript? Was it before or after sending out query letters? Did you do it yourself or did you hire an established editor?"

My first novel draft was written in the spring / summer of 2004. I had spent years writing articles, starting novels, wanting to write a novel but was never successful at finishing. When I turned 50 I realized that if I was going to pursue my dream it had better be now. I wrote my first draft rather rapidly and obsessively -- taking only three months. It was really REALLY rough and raw. After I had my first draft I let it sit and started another project. At the time, I was teaching high school so I had summers off. The following year I went on leave of absence to work on my PhD and immersed myself in educational academic writing. I never do anything half-way. That first summer (2004) I was tempted to go to the Maui writers retreat and conference but I resisted. Deep inside I felt I was not prepared. I started sending query letters out in 2004/2005 and edited my first novel. I was woefully ignorant. What was most helpful was having a completed manuscript to work with (edit) and starting another project right away.
I was a bit rusty, but the academic papers I was required to write picked me up and dusted off my grammar and mechanics. I discovered I still had that spark to make people want to read my papers even though the subject was education and not fiction.
I received occasional handwritten notes on my rejections complementing me on my writing. At the time, I did not know how rare that was. I did not have any professional editing help. I bought mass quantities of writing books and started to educate myself about the business of publishing. I feel doing your own editing teaches you much. By the time I attended my first Maui writers conference I had a finished manuscript and one work in progress. After the Maui networking I learned much more about self editing and was able to utilize that in my next three manuscripts. LOTTERY was my third finished manuscript. My editing process includes a large group of beta readers (NOT writers!). They are invaluable for what I term the WTF factor. I queried before I was ready or what I like to say BM (before Maui) and AM (after Maui). After Maui I got requests for fulls and partials on my first novel. I stopped querying number one and began querying my third novel in May/ June of 2006 and obtained representation that July.
After working on my novel with both my agent and my editor I am glad I did not resort to a "book doctor" and I am glad I attended retreats and conferences to learn how to make my writing better. It makes me more competent and my editor made the comment that I have the cleanest prose she has seen in a long time. There were really few changes and suggestions (so far).
I hope this answers your question.
Any others?


Cassandra Tiensivu said...

Thank you so much for this response. Actually, in reference to the conferences, are there any you could recommend? Or is there a website that you know of that lists good conferences? I wish I could go to the one in Maui, but that's a bit far at the moment for me.

ORION said...

That's a great question.
I will tackle this one in my blog tomorrow and maybe we can get some more suggestions in the comments sections.
FYI There's a link on my blog to a writers blog. You might want to check it out.
Obviously for me Maui works as I am from Hawaii but there are so many others all over the country.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. That looks like a great resource! Thanks for directing me there.

P.S. You compelled me to make a blog!

Michelle said...

Everyone's journey is so different when it comes to their writing careers. Thanks for your insight regarding yours.