Amy's wonderful at sharing her experiences as a writer, and now that she's locked in her agent, she's going nowhere but UP!
A.L.S.--I’d been writing stories all my life (well, since I was three) and was even a writing major in college, but I didn’t start writing for publication until I turned thirty. Like most people, I began the journey with little knowledge of what it would take to actually get published.
I’m not saying my first attempt at a full-length novel was good. I might hazard to say, in full humility, that the writing was good, because I had lots of practice writing. But there’s a big difference between a novel with good writing and a good novel.
What I didn’t have practice with was PLOT and SALEABLE, ORIGINAL IDEAS and WRITING A PITCH and AUDIENCE AWARENESS and CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.
What I quickly learned is that a whole lot has to click in order to have a publishable piece of work.
This fact isn’t meant to be discouraging. It should inspire us to KEEP TRYING.
Chances are, our first attempts at writing novels have a lot going for them. They might be great ideas with great writing, but might not have a specific-enough market. For instance, a friend of mine is writing a book with eleven- and twelve-year-old protagonists. The writing is beautiful, but she has a meandering, descriptive style that I’m not sure will work with a middle grade audience. (Of course, this is totally fixable. It’s just a matter of how she decides to fix it.)
Is she a great writer who deserves to be published someday?Absolutely. But she has to hit her stride and find her market.
We all have our weaknesses to overcome. I struggle with plot. I like writing long descriptions and I don’t like being mean to my characters. BIG PROBLEM if I ever want anything I write to sell.
When we attempt to write a book good enough for traditional publication, we have to give up writing purely for ourselves. We have to keep in mind the standards and operate by the rules, so to speak, if we’re going to have something on which the general public will want to spend money.
So, when you get those rejections (I’ve received more rejections than I can count!), keep writing. Don’t settle on a pet project and let it entrap you for ten years. Try new options, develop your voice, find your perfect age-group and genre, and above all practice your writing.
None of your early attempts will ever be wasted. You’ll always be practicing and improving.
Just don’t give up.
Thank you so much for your encouragement, Amy!
***How about you? Have you locked in your audience? Do you have a writing weakness you're trying to strengthen, or a pet project you just can't let go of?***