The Long and Winding Road

October 14, 2008 by in category Archives with 3 and 0
Home > Writing > Archives > The Long and Winding Road

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.

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A Slice of Orange started in 2004 as a group of authors from Orange County, California. We have expanded to include authors from around the globe–from the UK, all across the US to New Zealand. Our authors include the multi-published and writers at the beginning of their publishing career. In addition to authors, we feature blog posts from editors, PR professionals, and cover designers. The bright segments of the writing and reading community that make up one perfect entity—A Slice of Orange.

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    A Slice of Orange started in 2004 as a group of authors from Orange County, California. We have expanded to include authors from around the globe–from the UK, all across the US to New Zealand. Our authors include the multi-published and writers at the beginning of their publishing career. In addition to authors, we feature blog posts from editors, PR professionals, and cover designers. The bright segments of the writing and reading community that make up one perfect entity—A Slice of Orange.
  • Anonymous says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

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

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