Luck be a Lady

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“You can knock on a lot of doors, but real luck is knocking on the right door, at the right time, and having someone on the other side willing to open it.” ~ SN

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I am not as patient as Job, but I am willing to endure some obstacles along the path to my goals.  That willingness has served me well in many aspects of my life.  Considering the initial idea for my first novel was conceived almost a decade ago, I am proud of myself for seeing it through and writing it in its entirety.

Now comes the true test of my patience – trying to find an agent who thinks my story has enough merit for a publisher to be interested in adding me to their repertoire.

I have mentally prepared myself with the knowledge that this is going to be a long process.  It may take years to find an agent, if I do find one, and it will take a few more years beyond that for my book to be published.  It is a painstaking process that will require every ounce of faith I have in the fact that my book (or books) will, one day, be on a book shelf.

Between knocking on the intangible doors of those prospective agents (by means of email or website submissions), I have begun work on a second novel.  Success isn’t always about luck.  It’s also about tenacity and the willingness to put in the work.  Thankfully, I have my fair share of both of those qualities, not just in my writing but in my life in general.

If something is worth working for and putting forth the effort, I am willing to fall back on my patience to see where my journey takes me.  Sure, it would be nice to have some luck on my side to open the right doors at the right times, but Lady Luck is a fickle creature and she does what she wants, when she wants.  I can’t spend my life depending on that luck, so I am hoping to create some of my own by keeping my tenacity at the forefront of my game.   This way I know, if Luck isn’t going to be that Lady, I at least have a back-up plan.

 

 

 

Just writing is just right

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I knew it wasn’t gone completely.  Lying dormant, somewhere in the back of my brain, was my drive to write.  It happens to me every autumn.  I begin to realize I have more time to write but, because the summer and fall are so much busier at work, I have been out of the habit of sitting down and writing every day.

With the lull of November upon us, I now have time to retrain my brain to generate the phrases that have been trapped in its confines and send them coursing through my fingertips onto my keyboard.  When I say coursing, I mean slow dribbles of words that may string themselves into a sentence, but it’s a start.

I have a writing project ongoing with our local library that I am anxious to rekindle and a second book that is a mere shadow of what it will become.  I still have many query letters to compose with the hope of finding an agent willing to take me on so I can get my first novel published and I have the desire to continue putting words together to string together a meaningful essay to represent my life.

I have taken the first step by promising myself that I will write a blog post every day for the month of November.  Here’s hoping…..

 

 

And just like that, it was out of my hands…..

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I saw the corners of his mouth turn into a smile as I handed it over.   One hundred and eighty-two pages of eight and a half by eleven paper covered by eighty-two thousand, six hundred and fifty words of a story I crafted were turned over to my fourteen year old nephew so he could be the first person, besides myself, to read the book in its entirety.

My nephew, like me, loves to read and even though his calendar age may prove that he is only fourteen, he reads far beyond his age.   I could think of nobody more suited for the role of first reader than him and I was happy to hand the pages over to him.

My dad was a voracious reader as well.  Although the premise of my story may not have been something my dad would have eagerly pulled from the book shelf, he would have been my biggest fan.  It is bitter-sweet knowing how proud he would have been of my accomplishment but knowing that I can never hear those words come from him.  I know he is up there somewhere giving me a thumbs up and doing his best to encourage a literary agent to take a chance on me.

As much as I sit here, nervously awaiting the outcome of the first read-through, I anxiously anticipate feedback on the story.  I’m sure Dean Koontz or Stephen King never batted a thousand on their first at-bats so I’m expecting to take many more swings before I knock it out of the park.  I just want to make sure I stay in the game!

The positives in a negative

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My foray into finding a literary agent did not begin without some sage advice from some wonderful people I have met through this blog.  Thankfully their wisdom from having pounded this same pavement on which I now find myself more than prepared me for the long road ahead.

After sending out my first query letters on Sunday, I received my first (anticipated) rejection letter on Monday.  I thought I would feel more disheartened but his response was so much more positive than I thought it would be.

My story is not what he is currently seeking – understandable (although his bio included mystery and suspense in the genres he looks for).  His decision was also based on his current workload and the nature of the material he is presently representing.  He did not say my idea wasn’t worth selling.  He did not say he was not impressed by the first chapter.  And he did not say this book will never see the shelves of a book store.

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What he did say was “I absolutely think you should keep looking for representation” and he ended with “Very best of luck”.   For a rejection letter, it scored high in marks for encouragement and affirmation.

This is my first step in a journey of at least a thousand steps.  I am mentally prepared for the thumbs down from several agencies, it’s the nature of the business.  And while I truly wish to publish traditionally, there is always the route of self-publishing if push comes to shove.

My dream is to have my book published and, one way or another, I’m going to make that happen.

 

 

The feeling came rushing back

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Last year, I made the courageous decision to let two of the guests at the lodge read the first three chapters of my novel.  It was a large hurdle for me to jump, to trust my writing enough let them read it and, as I sat waiting to hear back from them, I was concerned that their critique may destroy the hope I had for my book.  I was dead wrong and I wrote about it here.

That same couple checked back into the lodge yesterday for their annual “Shammy” vacation.  I was delighted to see them again and we embraced like we have known each other for decades.  We had been corresponding by email over the winter and they were two of the people at the top of my list to share my news once I had finished writing the book.

As she began to leaf through the 8 1/2 by 11 pages, I watched her brow furrow.  She agreed with the changes that I had made in red ink but I sensed there was an underlying urge in her to be wielding the same red pen she had used last year.  Instead, she set the pages down on her lap and seemed so overjoyed that I had finished my work in progress.  She was thrilled and her joy seeped into me.  I was elated.  The excitement I had felt after finishing the writing now came flooding back and the two of us acted like we had just won the lottery.

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I have been dutifully editing my novel for egregious grammatical oversights as well as making the story flow as well as it should so the reader is not lost at the beginning of any of the chapters.  I plan to spend all of my free time over the next week finishing the revisions and beginning the hunt for an agent.  Game on!

A wish to build a dream on

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After successfully losing hours of sleep, multiple strands of hair and a decent portion of my sanity, I have completely read through my novel for the first time.  This first run-through was to catch any glaring grammatical issues that I would have been humiliated by had someone else seen them before I had.  Along the way, I did make some notes about slight plot restructuring and that is what the second reading will accomplish.

The romantic portion of writing a book seems to be a tiny pinpoint of light in my not-so-distant past.  The business of writing a book has taken center stage and the formidable task of marketing a book is waiting in the wings, making faces at me and sticking out its tongue.

I have been told many times and in many ways that for every one author who has the good fortune of being published, there are at least 10,000 writers whose novels will never be seen in print unless they choose to self-publish.  I want to exhaust every effort in traditional publishing before I entertain the thought of self-publishing.  Call me a bleeding heart, a romantic, a crazy…..whatever adjective you choose, my wish is to follow the path of the many authors I have read and followed for decades.  Their sacrifice, their blood, their sweat and their toil have carved a path that I want to follow.

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I want the criticism (I think), I want the rewrites (I hope), I want to inhabit my space on the arc of the learning curve and I want to have my book published in the way in which I have always dreamed.  Perhaps my dream is lofty but I am willing to follow the bread crumbs to their inevitable conclusion, whether that outcome favors me or not.

At the end of this journey, at least I can say I followed the culmination of my devotion to writing and gave it everything I had.  In no way have I conceded my efforts to appease the writing Gods.  I can only hope that, after my constant effort, the writing world has something it would like to give back to me.  Fingers crossed.