I’ve not heard back on my manuscript, but I have learned how to temper my impatience. Let’s see, over the past week I’ve worked out, picked pumpkins, entered another contest on a blog, listened to the new Michael Buble cd several times, and oh, yeah – started my next novel. All in all, not a total waste of nervous energy or time.
When I started my first novel – the first in what I hope will become a five book series featuring Joe Cooper – I began to follow blogs posted by other writers. A common theme seemed to be their constant writing, even in the face of uncertainty (or sigh, rejection. Such a horrible word, really). It amazed me to learn that so many writers kept right on…writing. They would send out a query or partial or full and get right to work on their next novel. And even if they received several rejections (again, bad word, bad), they would keep at it. And I have to admit, while part of me admired their tenacity and belief in their craft, a small part of me wondered how the hell they could keep writing without some sort of validation of their work. Then, I started writing my first novel. And now – I get it.
Honest to goodness, it’s not about the validation. Yes, of course we want an agent to sit up, notice our lovingly crafted tale, and offer representation. Well, what we really hope for is that what we so lovingly crafted is worth noticing. The validation may not be driving us, but it sure as heck doesn’t hurt. So what is it about? What keeps a writer glued to her screen/notepad/whatever plugging away with the very real possibility that it might take a long, long time before her work is visible to others? For me, a big part of it is getting those voices out of my head. Because sometimes, they won’t shut up.
All the characters (who often seem more real to me than they should) and their stories, heartaches, happy times…getting all of that down is a heck of an experience. Working on my first novel was amazing. I went through a full range of emotions every week – excitement, uncertainty, hope, anxiousness and many more I couldn’t quite pinpoint. At times I would think of a line and laugh out loud. My family quickly learned to ignore my outbursts, as it were. “Mommy’s thinking of her story again,” one of my boys would say.
As I begin work on my second novel, things are different. I feel as if I have more control over my words, certainly a deeper appreciation for the craft. And I’m even more committed to this life. And with the transition from writing my first novel to working on my second (and a couple of short stories), I think I better understand why writers keep at it. Why as each idea begins to take root in their minds, they nurture it – hoping it will grow into something that can survive. Because to not do so would be like killing off a part of you, some part of you that whispers ‘what-ifs’ and ‘could-bes’ and dreams of other lives and their hopes, desires, and needs. Maybe some – some who are not writers – might say it’s crazy to do this, to keep at it when you’ve no idea if you’ve got what it takes or not. But I say, to not do it…to keep hearing all those voices in your head and not get their stories out, that would be crazy.
Happy Writing –