The Starving Novelist
Phew!  Revisions ARE DONE!!  I like my novel, and I think it’s pretty good, but honestly, I really don’t want to read it again- ever.  Of course there’s always an exception, as in revision requests from an agent, but I will not be taking it upon myself to go through it- no way, Jose.  This puppy has sucked up enough of my time.  I am ready to move on.  I want to pour all my creative juices into something new.

No, I am not throwing in the towel; I will continue to query.  I plan on spending a couple of days each month sending out queries, until I (a) get an offer of rep, or (b) have queried every agent who accepts women’s fiction (well, every legitimate agent).  The rest of the time will be spent writing.  YES, WRITING!!  Can you imagine?  A writer wanting to write?   Now that’s a concept ;o)

I have come up something totally new and unexpected for my next project.  November’s Rain is on hold (I liked the idea behind it, but I just can’t get excited about it to continue it right now).  Instead, I am going to step into the world of young adult paranormal.  I know, I know- me and everyone else, right?  If you’ve been following my blog, you might even remember me making a comment about how I would never write young adult, because just the idea of writing about high school made me nauseous.  Well, it still does, which is why the setting is summertime :o)  I’ve already mapped out the plot for it, and I can’t wait to start writing!!  I just have to figure some things out first, and one of those things is a very BIG thing- first person vs. third person.  The Fine Line was written in first person, which is my comfort zone, so I’m debating whether to stick with first person . . . or not.  Decisions, decisions!!

I started writing The Fine Line in November of 2009.  A year has past, and with the new year just starting, I thought now would be a good time to "reflect" on everything I've learned.  Well, maybe I won't write everything I've learned (more than likely, you have a life, and have better things to do than listen to me ramble on, and on, and on).  Also, just to ensure I don't bore anyone to tears, I will do this in two parts (part two will be next weeks entry).

1) Writing- sometimes you LITERALLY have to force yourself to do it.  Come up with a schedule and stick to it- no matter what.  I HAD to write at least two pages every night, no matter how long it took.  To most of you, this might not seem like a lot, but I didn't want to set myself up for failure.  I wrote five nights a week (after putting the kids to bed).  I wrote on holidays, birthdays, nights I had to hold my eyelids up with toothpicks, and even when I was sick.  If by some chance I couldn't write, I had to make it up by writing on one of my "nights off."  I stuck to my schedule, and my first draft was finished in six months. 

2) Editing/Revising- I've mentioned this before, but I think it's worth mentioning again- after you finish your project, LET IT REST, and THEN start editing and revising.  I've heard the suggestion of six weeks, but some even recommend letting it sit longer.  This is probably the most valuable piece of advice I've acquired this past year.  It's so important to distance yourself from your project.  It's AMAZING what you find wrong after you've taken a break from it.  I didn't do this, and I could kick myself for not doing so.

3) Writing the query- There is no hard and fast rule for writing a query.  I used to be very anal about this, and therefore, drove myself crazy visiting every website under the sun, trying to figure out the "right" way.  Some say to put the genre and word count at the beginning, some say at the end.  Some say you should always include the first several pages of your ms with your query, some say don't include anything not requested.  I've learned that the MOST important thing about writing a query is the "hook" or "blurb" (another thing, can we require that everyone in the writing business use the same lingo? Thing of how much confusion would be laid to rest).  When it's all said and done, that's what agents REALLY care about- 'can this book make money?'  The second most important thing when writing a query is, common sense.  This means, keep in simple, formal, and respectful.  Mistakes can be overlooked (i.e. addressing the query to the wrong agent- yep guilty!  BUT ironically enough, I did get a request for a full from this agent!), but a lack of common sense can not. 

Next week- the first chapter, agents, feedback, and moving on
That's exactly what I'm doing.  I am literally pushing myself every night to revise/proof my ms.  Like I said in my previous blog entry, it is going so excruciatingly slllloooooow.  I'm not sure what happened to the patience I had a year ago while writing my book, but it's long gone.  Replacing it, is this never ending pang of anxienty.  I know in the end, it'll be worth it.  Even if nothing becomes of it, at least I'll know I did my best, and I in the end, that's all that matters (so they say). 

I read on someone's blog (can't remember whose- sorry!) that you're supposed to wait six weeks after completing your first draft of your ms, before you start reading and revising it.  All I can say is, I WISH I HAD KNOWN THIS SIX MONTHS AGO!!!!  This would've saved me so much time and frustration.  I literally starting "revising" the day after I finished it.  My ms was like my newborn baby- "perfect and flawless" in my eyes.  I zipped through my ms in probably a week (as opposed to the two months+ it's taking me this time).  Sure, I noticed some typos, and maybe a couple gramatical errors, but other than that, I thought it sparkled <supressing laughter>.    Needless to say, lesson learned.

Just keep revising, revising, revising . . .

Oh, by the way, just a note to the one or two people who follow my blog-  I probably won't be posting any more entries until after the Holidays.   Christmas (and everything that goes along with it) is sucking up all my time.  Not to mention, I'm REALLY tired of writing about REVISING, and hopefully this will be my last entry regarding the topic ;o) 

Happy Holidays to all!!
I haven't posted much, because as stated above, I've been revising (again . . .).  I've yet to hear from the two agents who currently have my ms, but I've decided to start on the revisions anyways.  The storyline is still the same, but I have been doing more slicing and dicing than a sous chef. 

Deep down, I believe my first chapter was killing me- I've had a couple agents tell me so, and according to everything I've read online, my opening chapter committed just about every sin a first chapter can commit (too much backstory, off-putting to the reader, etc.).  Sooo . . . I totally gutted it.  Of course, there were parts I really liked (and that are important to the story), so I'm going to plug those in at different spots throughout the ms. 

I am very surprised by how long this revision process is taking me.  At the rate I'm going, I figure I won't be done proofing for another six weeks.  The difference this time?  Well, I'm really taking my time to read through each chapter with "cold eyes."  The previous times I proofread, I was mostly concerned with making sure the plot flowed nicely, and stayed on course.  This time, I want to make sure every sentence sparkles, which means, taking out all the "well's, really's, that's, just's, etc."  Needless to say, it's AMAZING how "wordy" of a writer I tend to be, and how many mistakes you can find when you change your perception.  I'm reading each chapter approximately three times, and each time, I find something . . .  

At the end of this journey, I want to be able to say, I did everything I could to get my ms represented/published.  I'm not ready to give up on her yet!  The girl sitting on the bleechers is getting a make-over, and hopefully when she's all done, she won't be sitting on the bleechers very long!