Friday, October 14, 2011

I feel like a writer again.

Just prior to the M&M Conference, I learned that I won a three-page critique for leaving a comment on a blog post. This morning I submitted my pages to the published author who sponsored the contest; she got them back to me within hours.

It was the most detailed, thoughtful critique I have ever received. The good news is she "really likes my heroine."  Hearing that was especially welcome because a few months ago an agent told me she couldn't relate to my heroine at all. I made some changes to my manuscript as a result of her feedback, so maybe I am headed in the right direction.

Unfortunately, most of the rest was bad news. I mean, this author had other positive things to say about my writing. But when I look at all the critiques collectively, I see a lot that needs to be revised, some on a very basic level. In a way, this makes me sad. I identify strongly with my heroine; this is the story of my heart. On the other hand, this manuscript was my very first attempt at fiction writing; I used it to practice the most basic of fiction writing skills: setting, character, plot, point of view, scene, dialogue. 

Show, don't tell. Sigh. Will I ever learn?

I am convinced at this point that the only way to get this story right is to start again from scratch. Does that mean that all these hours I have spent working on this manuscript have been wasted? Of course not. But, for now at least, I think it is time to put The Wishing Box under my bed and get busy on my next project.

Over the next three weeks, I have three books queued up to read:

Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon
Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham

I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to accomplish that on top of practicing piano duet music for performance at the October 26th Gwinnett County Music Teachers Association meeting, preparing a presentation for the Georgia Music Teachers Association State Conference on November 2nd, and living my regular, scheduled life. But I am hoping that everything I learn will make this year's NaNoWriMo project my best effort to date.  

In the meantime, I am going to go ahead and submit The Wishing Box to the agent and editor I pitched to at M&M, as requested. And steel myself for rejection.

Believing that my best work is ahead of me.

16 comments:

Michele Stefanides said...

Do NOT give up! I may be attributing this to the wrong person (sorry), but I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said "How many people give up not knowing that success was just one failure away." Keep going! Try, learn, revise, and try again. You'll get there.

Pam Asberry said...

I'm not giving up, Michele. And I DO want to revise this story at some point. But I am too close to it right now. I have a couple of other good story ideas and I think it's time for a fresh start. I am actually excited about writing again. Thank you for your encouragement!

S.M. Carrière said...

Now that is fabulous news! If the character captures attention, you are halfway there. The craft takes time...

Listen to me... as if I know. I have a mountain of rejections and one self-pubbed book.

Keep at it, Pam. I'm so certain you'll get there.

Pam Asberry said...

And you will too, S.M. When it happens, let's meet halfway and celebrate! :-)

Michele Stefanides said...

I hear you about being too close to a story. It's how I feel about my current, first, one. Sometimes I have to put it away because I get so emotionally caught up it feels almost real. I'm deliberately creating a character for this NaNo that I don't think I'd get so wrapped up in, but who knows...

Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

I have faith in you, girlfriend! Keep writing.

Larissa Hoffman said...

If an editor and agent asked for a submission, I'd take that as good news, too. You can edit structural things, but to have an interesting character and story that captured the attention of seasoned professionals, that's good news.
I am in a similar boat, but made sure to start a new project right away while I wait. I can only think, the more I write, the better I'll get. And finding a new story to get excited about will take the sting from future rejection (I hope).
Hang in there, Pam! I only briefly met you, but came away impressed by your professionalism. You have a great attitude, which is a big part of the recipe for success!
Larissa

Pam Asberry said...

Only 17 more days, Michele! We can be writer buddies! :-)

Pam Asberry said...

Thanks, Carol! I shall! :-)

Pam Asberry said...

Thank you so much, Larissa! I am glad I got to meet you and look forward to getting to know you better. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. It helps to know I'm not out here plugging all alone!

R.R. said...

Follow your Heart! Here is an example of a profoundly mistaken rejection:
Somewhere Over the Rainbow: The song was initially deleted from the film after a preview in San Luis Obispo, because MGM chief executive Louis B. Mayer and producer Mervyn LeRoy thought the song "slowed down the picture" and that "the song sounds like something for Jeanette MacDonald, not for a little girl singing in a barnyard".

The persistence of associate producer Arthur Freed and Garland's vocal coach/mentor Roger Edens to keep the song in the picture paid off.[2] (Wikipedia)

I know about your persistence - so its just a matter of time!!! RR

Pam Asberry said...

Wow, I'd never heard that story before, RR. Just proves that the experts aren't always right. I appreciate your vote of confidence. Now, back to work.

Tami Brothers said...

You are doing a great job, Pam. If you weren't a writer, what would I be reading right now? Hhhhmmmmm. Didn't think of that, did ya?

Hugs

Tami

KendallGrey said...

The reason you're a good writer is that you LISTEN to what "experts" say. You could just blow off all their comments and keep doing what you're doing, but the fact that you recognize there are still issues you need to work out is HUGE. Best of luck with Nano. I'm doing it too, so find me!

Pam Asberry said...

Blogging is easy for me, Tami. I guess I should have said I feel like FICTION writer again. As I have said many times, it is one thing to talk about writing a novel. It is quite another thing to actually WRITE one. But I'm going to keep plugging away at it! In the meantime, thank you for being a faithful reader of my blog. I love knowing you are out there!

Pam Asberry said...

Thanks, Kendall. I am chomping at the bit to get started on my NaNo project. I will definitely look you up! Are you going to any of the kickoff events?