Saturday, April 3, 2010

From a very young age...

Many, if not most, writers boast that they had a strong desire to write from a very early age. Well, here's the proof from my own life....

I've included page one (of four) of my manuscript that my cousin and I worked on, probably around ages 8 and 9. It's interesting to me now how very important it was for us to know each character in our story individualy, an element that is a must for any writer of fiction.
We spent hours (or so it seemed) sketching out our characters, deciding how they dressed, what their personalities were, the kinds of families they came from, etc. Of course as a child our characters had to be extremely rich and very talented, you know, people that we could aspire to be. But now that I am grown I realize money has nothing to do with it. (which is good since I haven't made a dime yet on anything I have written).
The wheels began turning at such a young age that by the time I was a teenager I was writing up ideas for complete manuscripts, usually based off of dreams I had, and getting intimate with characters, setting, and plot. It was an elusive thing back then to create the meat of the story. I knew the beginning, the end, and the purpose of the books I began, but nothing else. I put them in a box.

Studying hard in my English classes was my next step. I got 'C's ironically enough. (I promise I worked extremely hard, but I guess you can't blame me since I was living in a foreign country at the time and trying to learn two languages simultaneously). Also odd was the fact that I did very well in science class. Perhaps that is why I use elements of science in my writing, to a fair degree.
During High School, mainly because I was a social outcast by choice from moving around every year (and sometimes twice) from grades 7 through 12, I spent a lot of time working on more stories. I based several of my characters on several students I came in contact with in various places I lived. (Including characters in my current work of fiction FATE: Lefty, Derek, Erik and Major Lewis).
In the back of my mind I always thought I would dust off the old incomplete manuscripts, or start new ones right around the time my kids were fleeing the nest. This idea seemed smart to me. Not only because I would have more time (no diapers to change, etc), but also because I would be more mature, have more life experience under my belt. Silly me.
The pull of writing kept coming.  When my second child was born I couldn't get away from the idea, despite my plans. Then I had a dream (much like Staphanie Meyer, but please don't compair). In the dream I was in a strange library, the same one I describe in FATE book one. I observed, explored, and then out of the blue, I was being attacked by some unseen force throwing electrical bolts at me. Much to my relief I found out from the books around me that I could fly if I applied the principles I read about. I frantically searched for the exit and once I found it (in a really odd, out of the way spot, surrounded by unkempt bookshelves) I noted that it took me out into a normal library. An empty library, almost bare of any reading material, in fact a steril place, brightly lit.
When I woke from the dream I couldn't get it out of my mind. So, I decided to write it in my journal (a semi-odd thing for me to do). The dream wanted me to remember it, or so it seemed. After a couple of days, still thinking about the dream, I decided I better pay attention. At the same time, or close to it, I heard about Stephanie Meyer's success. And being in the same faith and identical circumstances (with family, stage of life, etc), somehow this gave me a push. I was inspired and came to the conclusion that I didn't need to wait any longer to write down the novel I knew was inside me.
I got started, completely starting afresh. (I originally thought I would re-use my old manuscripts, but used only the dream as a starting point). I got a pad of paper and began writing. Within three months I had my story finished. Back then I called it CHRISTIAN'S LIBRARY (yes, I know, very dull). Now, I admit I was naive thinking the story was ready for agents, but I got a couple of books and learned how to write query letters. I started with Jeff Herman's guide of that year, as well as Susan Page's book on how to get published and set to work sending queries to every known agent covering MG and YA. Hey, it worked for Stephanie Meyer, right? (Of course Stephanie Meyer also had some college courses behind her, and possibly more connections than I did, too).
In the back of my mind, I knew that MS wasn't ready. I found one of those 'fake' agencies, who fell all over my book. I didn't realize until it was almost too late that they were frauds (how embarassing, but that's what I get for being impatient). They wanted to publish my book, but I am so glad I listened to that little voice inside my head waving a red flag at my subconscience.
There were a few agents that wanted to see my MS, but in the end I was turned down by over thirty agents. (Thank goodness!) I took a year off, regrouped, moved to a new town, started over...completely. I threw the old MS out (okay, not really, I still have it), never looked at it again, and began afresh. I have since read several revising books, learned the craft from several sources, had many many many people read my second/third draft (a loving friend of mine with experience edited it for me, which taught me several lessons), I joined authonomy (later leaving the site after having quickly gained all I could from other writers just as inexperienced as myself), learned more...wrote a million practice queries (all of which I made my husband turn off the TV program he was glued to and listen as I read them). And now, finally, I feel like I am on the road to being published.
No, it hasn't happened yet. Will it happen soon? Maybe not. I have realized quite bluntly from a real life agent that I was falling into the same traps that other new writers fall into, and am revising, revising, revising.

It feels good. It feels great. It feels wonderful. (To quote Bob).
I have hope for the future. And if nothing comes from all this, at least I have learned something. Many somethings.
PS. I forgot to mention all the other writing I did in between times...but I doubt I will post any of it...maybe. We'll see.

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