The Long and Winding Road
While considering my personal journey from aspiring writer to published author, the old Beatle’s song, “The Long and Winding Road,” leaps into mind, because it describes my experiences best. But to keep this post short and to the point, I will offer the following:
Let’s begin with the rejections. I have acquired quite a collection over the years. Most of them were “form” letters. However, some of them arrived with a personal note. I valued the personal ones. They encouraged, they praised, and they kept me going. Yet, despite the kindnesses and compliments, none of them ever told me what I needed to do to improve. One suggested hiring an editor. Not a bad idea if one can afford it. I couldn’t.
I read and reread the books of my favorite authors and discovered things they did that I had omitted. From there I endlessly revised—or at least it felt like I did. Finally, I submitted one of my novels for consideration. (I had two at the time I believed acceptable).The editor that read Spirit of the Rebellion praised and encouraged. But--she said--if I ever expected to publish that novel, I needed to make a host of revisions. Didn’t I just do that? Well, obviously not nearly enough.
The good news was that this editor was different. She was kind enough to give me direction. In addition to the advice given, she said that if I made the suggested revisions, I could submit the work again. Wow! Really? She didn’t have to ask me twice. This sweet editor worked with me for months. She gave me guidance each step of the way and I learned far more than I had ever learned before! Finally, she offered me my first contract.
What did my editor teach me? She taught me that first and foremost, I needed to acquire patience and perseverance. Then she taught me what to do between writing “the end” and submitting my work to a publisher. Would you like to hear a few of the important ones, just in case you don’t land that special editor?
Polish the tarnished silver until it shines: This means I need to edit and re-edit each sentence of each manuscript I write until I can recite the pages in my sleep. I have learned to delete those passages (though dear to my heart) that slow the tempo of my story. At times, I kicked an entire subplot into the garbage can. (Don’t worry; I eventually got over it.) Pay attention to punctuation and grammar. They do matter.
Keeping my reader engaged in the story: She taught me to watch for those pesky passages that sneak into the story that “tell” instead of “show.” Your readers want to live your story alongside your characters. Give them every opportunity to do that.
Find at least one critique partner (no, not your mother, but she can read it too), the more the merrier. I now have five. They receive a copy of each manuscript I write and in turn, they give me their honest thoughts and criticisms with each and every revision. I don’t take offence when they give it. I carefully consider everything they say, and then I edit my manuscript again.
At the end of the day: The final novel has always turned out far better than the first effort. In fact, I can honestly say, there is no comparison between version one and version ten or twenty.
As I look back on this journey, I see a lot of hard work, and the proverbial blood, sweat and tears. But I also see the exhilarating moments of joy as well. Along the way, I have received quite an education, and education that will never end, no matter how many novels I may write. All in all, the bumpy ride is well worth the final destination and for the struggling writers out there, I highly recommend that ride.
Debbie has always had a soft spot for fairy tales, the joy of falling in love, and happily ever after endings. Stories of love and make believe filled her head for as long as she can remember. However, it was her beloved husband who encouraged, cajoled and inspired her to take up a pen and write some of them down. Her journey to published author could fill quite a few pages. However, in June of 2010, she submitted her debut novel “Spirit of the Rebellion” to her wonderful, patient, editor at The Wild Rose Press and the rest is history. She now has five published novels to her credit.
When she is not busy conjuring her latest novel, Debbie spends time with the members of her very large family, within the lovely, arid deserts of southern
She also pursues her interests in family history, mythology, and all things
ancient and historic. Nevada
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