Monday, November 16, 2009
First Manscript Finished!
How long can it take to write a first novel? Is 15 years too long? I think not, considering that the writer has to allow time spent honing her craft.
I've written most of my life. In fifth grade, I rewrote Longfellow's epic poem "Song of Hiawatha" into a play that my class presented on the radio. That was fun, and it got me out of math. Throughout my school career, I entered about every writing contest that came along and usually did fairly well. Then, after a nine-year stint as a newspaper journalist (winning a couple of awards there, too), college (English major), and ten years as a classroom teacher, I returned to my first love: writing fiction.
Originally, Up the Rutted Road was to be a picture book, but when an editor with Farrar, Straus & Giroux asked me to expand it into a middle-grade novel, I agreed. Now, I cannot imagine it as a picture book. FS&G didn't take the manuscript, but good rejection letters can be an education in themselves. I began to seriously study my craft to discover what URR needed. I also joined an excellent critique group through ACFW and continued to grow my writing. I interviewed people from the area of my setting (southeastern Kentucky), attended a major writers' conference and several smaller workshops, read books, studied on-line sources, and sought the wisdom of published writers.
Today I embark on another journey: a quest to find a publisher and/or an agent that would be a good fit. For some time now, I've been scoping out "possibles," noticing especially those who consider middle-grade novels, but now I'm looking for more.
Meanwhile, I'm also putting together a proposal. The chapter synopses are done. Now for the dreaded query letter. Fortunately, I have some excellent blog and website links right here to the left and down. Several of them address query and cover letters.
I am praying that God will lead me to the right agent and/or publisher early in my quest, since I have another manuscript waiting not so patiently in the wings.
What if I don't find either an agent or a publisher? Of course, that's a possibility. At least I have completed the manuscript and learned a lot along the way--about patience, about persistence, about writing fiction, and about how God works in our writing.
Oh, and by the way, in case you are a novice writer, Gentle Reader, please know from the beginning that the process of becoming does not end. A writer never fully arrives as long as she draws breath. We continue to read, to learn, to hone this precious gift that our Creator entrusted to us.