The Long and Winding Road

October 14, 2008 by in category Blogs with 3 and 0
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By Laura Drake

In a way, ignorance is bliss…at least for a little while. I started my first novel not knowing what lie ahead, and I’m glad. Not that it was awful – actually, I’ve had a lot more ups than downs, and I’m not even published yet. But if I’d have known how long it would take, and how much hard work it took – I would have been severely daunted.

First, you’ve got to actually write the novel. Don’t laugh; how many people have you met who told you, “Oh, I’m going to write a novel one day, I’ve got this idea…” but they never actually write anything? Ok, you finish. Whew! I learned a lot, and I’m sure the next time it’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 didn’t know what that entailed when I began. Eight full versions and countless partial edits later, and it’s done! I learned a lot, and I’m sure the next time it’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 horror…for all I know, it’s the dumbest way to submit. But. I did get a lot more interest than I expected. I’ve heard stories about dejection due to rejection, and the emotional effect on budding authors. I didn’t take it personally, and wasn’t discouraged – 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, “Congratulations on your first draft!” (first?!) she had issues with a couple of things – nothing big – just the hero, and most of the dialog, and the title. If I’d do a rewrite, she’d read it and consider representing me. Yeah! I think – we’ll see.

Luckily, I’m relentless when I want something. I’m working on the rewrite now.
At the very least, I learned a lot, and I’m sure the next time it’ll go faster.


  • Anonymous
    on October 19, 2008

    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.

    Barb D.

  • Anonymous
    on October 16, 2008

    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.

  • Anonymous
    on October 14, 2008

    LOL!! Laura, I hear you! Good for you! I’m sure next time it’ll go faster! 🙂

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