Mistakes

Mistakes

 

I have made many! But I am beginning, I hope, to understand 'this' process a little better.

 

My very first novel, aimed at a younger age group, I feel was my practice novel. Not only did it teach me to finish something, a long and insufferable problem I once found myself inflicted with, but it started the learning process of how the literary world works today. 

 

Four years ago I was over-keen and made my very first, in a long line of mistakes. I submitted without conviction that it was ready. Yes I'd written the damn thing, that was an achievement in itself. But I ignored the sound advice given via an agency to - put the book to bed. It is a mistake that I will never make again.

 

Once, after many rejections from both publishers and literary agents, I took that advice...and when I re-read my 90'000 word manuscript I have to admit, I kicked myself quite hard!

 

You see, you cannot judge the story you have written unless you have fresh eyes. You cannot tell if there really is a story there at all, unless of course you pick it up after forgetting about it for a while. Only when your mind has been cleared from all the plot twists and cultivation of your story, can you truly see if somebody else could believe in it, the way you do. Because as a writer, your judgement becomes clouded during the time you actually live inside your tale.

 

Mistake number two - yes there are many! Not researching properly. And by that I mean, your audience, the market, but more importantly the agents and publishers you are submitting too.

 

It is vital that you know which companies represent the age group and genre that you are aiming your work at. I once imagined myself sitting in some swanky office, magazines and books everywhere. Desks filled with filter coffee and hand-delivered pastries. People in power suits, tight hair buns and glasses sitting on the ends of their noses...an agency, equipped to cosmopolitan standards, a stack of submissions on their desks and PC's. Of course, this is ridiculous...but it's what my imagery gave me. The point is that I put myself in the position of an editor, a respective agent, snowed under with manuscripts that were as un-polished as mine. I sat down. Hair dishevelled, no glasses due to 20/20 vision, no posh coffee, definitely no pastries and jogging bottoms that have seen better days. And it was then I realised, just how much over-hopeful crap these people have to endure. They aren't there to make you feel bad, despite the rejections that often follow a submission. They don't have two heads that want to eat at your confidence and spit it in your eye. They are well educated, lovers of the written word, with a passion for fresh writing and ideas. They want to discover you and send you that response you desire so much...but too often they are inundated with an enormous pile of un-ready and poor quality author passion. Suddenly I felt bad for adding to their burdon - and for selling myself short when I could have demonstrated less speed and more haste.

 

Mistake number three (Ho long do you guys have?) I gave up!

 

For eighteen months I hung my head and didn't write a single word. Flashes of 'cringe' reminded me why I should never let my waking dreams re-surface. But you know what? I couldn't do it. The likes of Oprah Winfrey, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney and even Charles Darwin failed at their first attempts - the point was that they dusted themselves off, learned more, believed in themselves and never gave up trying.

 

Writing stories is a part of me. It never strays and only when I begin to develop those often small inklings, do I understand that I actually have to write. It makes me smile. It keeps me sane. Throughout the whole journey of writing I am a different person. A small part of me lives inside each of the characters that I create. Their trials and tribulations become mine to solve on a personal level, and, the worlds I build - I get to explore. Writing is where I am most alive.

 

So there it is. A window into a somewhat turbulent learning curve. Mistakes are good and can be a very positive and enlightening experience. There are many more to add to the list and I am sure there will be many more to be made. But for now I will take what I have learned and apply it as best I can...till my next kick or cringe moment.

 

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