One of my favorite writer blogs is that of Rachel Hawkins, author of the Hex Hall series. When I first found her blog, I noticed that she had written several posts, in detail, on exactly how she got to be a published author. It was so helpful and fun to see the path she took, with every twist and turn included, and I thought, “Hey, I bet that would be something I could do. Maybe it would help somebody else!”
DISCLAIMER: My journey is not finished, and it won’t be until a major publishing house buys my book! But I have made it further down the road than a lot of people, so whatever I’ve got to share, dang it, I’m going to share it all.
So, here we go! Got your canteen? Good. My Journey To Publication: Part One.
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It was an oppressively hot day in August (not that there’s any other kind around these parts) when I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. This story had been swirling around inside my head for weeks, but I kept putting it off because, hey, I’d started like 85 million books and had never written anything past Chapter 2.
85 MILLION, I tell you.
Plus, the school year was about to start, so why would I start a new novel NOW? I wouldn’t have time to write anything! And nothing I wrote was good, anyway, so it was pointless! POINTLESS!
I convinced myself of this for at least twenty minutes. Then I sat down in front of my computer and began to write. I didn’t outline. I didn’t plan. I just wrote the first chapter of this story that wouldn’t leave me alone.
Please believe me when I tell you: It sucked. Big time.
But I kept at it. Even though school had started back and I was working all day. Even though we were newlyweds and I was still playing house, rearranging things and trying to get a handle on the laundry situation.
And within a month, I had accomplished the impossible: I’d soared over the Chapter 2 hurdle and actually written, like, SEVEN WHOLE CHAPTERS.
I was STUNNED by what I’d done! The perseverance! The determination! The sheer AWESOMENESS!
I cleaned up our office and tried to make it writerly and academic and important-looking. I carefully arranged books on the back of the desk and moved the cute brown lamp from the guest room into my new Writing Haven. Our old laptop got hooked up with a hot new printer, and baby, I was in business.
And after all that work, I wrote in my new Writing Haven exactly two times before realizing I liked working at the kitchen table much better. There was more light, and it was closer to the coffee maker.
After I finished eight chapters and edited them as much as I could, I asked a couple of trusted friends to read and tell me what they thought. They were encouraging, and I worked with their suggestions to improve the story.
And by “improve the story” I mean delete the whole thing and start over.
This went on for months: I would write a few chapters, have one of my friends read it, and then rework it into something presentable. I worked my tail off until the thing was almost finished. 60 something thousand words of my blood, sweat, and tears.
And then, in December 2008, I started looking for an agent…which is where we’ll pick up next time!