|This is a post for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Group|
I hope life is treating you well. It seems hard to believe that we are already into February. Where the heck did the time go? I hoped to complete four chapters of my novel last month. Instead, I only got through two. At this pace I'll never get to the end.
When I complained about this to my husband, he accused me of holding back because I was scared of the unknown. Although I denied it, gave lots of reasons I had not completed my monthly goal, somewhere deep inside I knew he spoke the truth.
When I first began the novelist's journey, my head was in the clouds. I effortlessly wrote and published a couple of short stories and my thesis was also in print. Then I came up with the idea for my book, and at the time, thought it was so good that an agent would beg to see it. I imagined myself as the next Stephen King (what a putz I was back then).
About 170 pages into the first draft, I approached an agent with my idea. I barely got the first sentence out of my mouth, when she cut me off, said she wasn't interested. She had just published a futuristic novel on the Mayans (which is nothing like mine) and couldn't get into it, even dropped the author as a client.
Disappointed by the agent's response, I slinked away with my tail tucked between my legs. This was a defining moment for me as a writer. For the first time, I had to face the reality that publishing is a tough business to break into. Also, I was forced to ask myself why I had chosen to become a novelist in the first place. Since, at the time, I thought a quest for fame and fortune was the driving force behind my writing, I decided that this would never happen and abandoned the project.
A couple months later, I found I missed writing, was out of sorts without it. It was a blissful escape from reality, my therapy so to speak. With this in mind, I decided that whether or not I became a published author, I would always write. I loved/ still love it.
I returned to my project and after the first draft was finished, posted it to an online critique site. Needless to say, I soon discovered that I had a lot to learn about writing a novel. My characters were one dimensional, my plot had more holes than a warehouse filled with Swiss cheese and there were enough POV shifts to give a reader whiplash. I didn't let this get me down though. I bought and read several "How to books," enrolled in workshops and practiced, practiced, practiced. It took me another year to finish the second draft. Fortunately, when I posted it again, the reviews were very positive. With renewed vigor, I began the third and present draft.
Last October an agent expressed interest in my book, asked for a partial. I have yet to send it. As I've identified above, the road to writing a novel has been an arduous one. All my failures have driven me to improve, to be better than I was. Essentially, to some extent, failure has been my friend. I'm proud of how far I've come. For the first time in years I really feel good about my work. I'm insecure that sending it off to a pro might take that away.
Yes, I know all authors experience rejection, and there is also the infinitesimal chance that an agent would like what she read. However, I'm just not willing to venture into the unknown yet. Not saying I'll never be, just not right now. Have any of you had similar experiences and feelings? If so, I'd be interested to know about them and learn how you overcame them. Until next time, happy writing, my friends.