By Laura Drake
In a way, ignorance is blissâ€¦at least for a little while. I started my first novel not knowing what lie ahead, and Iâ€™m glad. Not that it was awful â€“ actually, Iâ€™ve had a lot more ups than downs, and Iâ€™m not even published yet. But if Iâ€™d have known how long it would take, and how much hard work it took â€“ I would have been severely daunted.
First, youâ€™ve got to actually write the novel. Donâ€™t laugh; how many people have you met who told you, â€œOh, Iâ€™m going to write a novel one day, Iâ€™ve got this ideaâ€¦â€ but they never actually write anything? Ok, you finish. Whew! I learned a lot, and Iâ€™m sure the next time itâ€™ll go faster.
I patted myself on the back repeatedly for a week, daydreamed about book signings and autographing for my adoring fans, and then started the editing.
Really glad I didnâ€™t know what that entailed when I began. Eight full versions and countless partial edits later, and itâ€™s done! I learned a lot, and Iâ€™m sure the next time itâ€™ll go faster.
Then I submit. I decided to go the agent route. I know that to a certain extent, this is a numbers game; I put it out to as many agents as would accept my genre – came to about 125. I have told this to authors who looked at me in horrorâ€¦for all I know, itâ€™s the dumbest way to submit. But. I did get a lot more interest than I expected. Iâ€™ve heard stories about dejection due to rejection, and the emotional effect on budding authors. I didnâ€™t take it personally, and wasnâ€™t discouraged â€“ at least with the first 100 rejections. After that, it started to feel like Chinese water torture.
But wait! I actually got a note back from an agent who said, â€œCongratulations on your first draft!â€ (first?!) she had issues with a couple of things â€“ nothing big â€“ just the hero, and most of the dialog, and the title. If Iâ€™d do a rewrite, sheâ€™d read it and consider representing me. Yeah! I think – weâ€™ll see.
Luckily, Iâ€™m relentless when I want something. Iâ€™m working on the rewrite now.
At the very least, I learned a lot, and Iâ€™m sure the next time itâ€™ll go faster.
I can so relate, Laura. Not only do I have several drafts of one manuscript, I have several VERSIONS of the same basic story. Although I have moved on to other projects since then, that story still haunts me, so one day I will no doubt drag the thing back out.
Great story, Laura.
When I lived in Louisiana, New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry came to talk to our RWA chapter twice. (His agent belonged to our group; that’s how we got lucky.) At that time (four years ago?), he routinely did about 50 drafts (including partials) of every manuscript. He’s a lawyer, and he struggled with writing in a nonlawyerly manner. So congratulate yourself; sounds as if even after you get an agent and a publisher, you’ll have completed fewer than 20.
LOL!! Laura, I hear you! Good for you! I’m sure next time it’ll go faster! 🙂
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