By Jeannie Watt
1. Ideas and proposals still get rejected.
I thought that after receiving The Call that anything an author cared to write was automatically turned into a book. Not so, and that’s a very good thing. Editors see so many stories in the course of their jobs that what seems fresh to an author may not be so fresh to the editor. Apparently sometimes certain professions/conflicts/ideas will suddenly start appearing at the same general time. When I submitted my Too Many Cooks? trilogy idea, I found that there were a lot of chef stories being submitted at that time. I’d thought I’d hit on an untapped profession.
And then there are clichés—cliché plot devices, resolutions, conflicts. Too much telling, not enough showing. Too much realizing and not enough action. All of these are reasons that I’ve gone back to the drawing board after submitting proposals, and every time, it's been worth the extra effort.
2. Writing doesn’t get easier. You’d think after all this practice that it would simply flow. Other than the two books mentioned in #4 below, that hasn’t been my experience. Most of my books beat the crud out of me—sometimes more than once. Fortunately I love to write, love the challenge of creating characters and developing a story, even if I sometimes go to bed wondering how on earth I'm going to come up with an ending/deeper conflict/bigger obstacle to love.
3. You don’t have nearly as much time to perfect your books after book number one. I spent two years working on my first book, sending it in, getting rejected, rewriting and sending it in again. I could rattle off certain scenes verbatim since I’d worked on them so often. And then I sold my second book and I had a deadline. Deadlines move toward you at the speed of light. I had no idea.
4. Just because one book is easy to write, it doesn’t mean the next one will be. I’ve written two books that flowed almost effortlessly. There were a few problems, but for all intents and purposes, the writing was easy. I thought I'd tapped into some new source of inspiration, crossed some magical boundary, and writing would now be easy every time. I hadn't and it wasn’t. The next three books were very challenging and I learned a lot writing them—like don’t expect writing to be easy.
5. While your current book is beating you up, the next idea you have seems so perfect and fresh that you can’t wait to get going. Then you finish the killer book, revise it and finalize it and start on the new fresh idea, which then proceeds to beat you up. Meanwhile, the previous killer book is about to be released. You get your author copies and now the story is exciting and you love it and you wonder why you thought you ever had a problem getting the words on paper. If only the current WIP would be as cooperative…in other words writing is like natural childbirth. You forget what the process is like until you go through it again, but once done, it’s well worth it.
I'd love to hear any additions to my list of things people have learned since starting to write. Remember that if you post, your name will be included in our next Super Author drawing.