Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Long Journey of the Writer

My thirties are coming to a close, officially this Sunday.  So, needless to say, I'm getting a little introspective.  But when I think about what my thirties were to me, in the big picture, it was about the process of becoming a novelist.

I mean, I had been writing before that, of course.  In my twenties I had written a few plays, and made several false starts on novels, done a lot of worldbuilding work... but it was all still just dabbling.

So, we come to 2003.  Oddly enough, what flipped the switch in 2003 was NaNoWriMo.  Now, as I've said before, NaNoWriMo is a great way to learn how to write a novel, but it's not a good way to get a novel written.  NaNoWriMo, is, in essence, your Trunk Novel Workshop.  And for me, in 2003, it was Fifty Year War.  Of course, I didn't realize that at the time.  One never realizes they're writing a trunk novel when they're writing it. 

I "finished" Fifty Year War by the end of 2003, if you can call a 57,000 word plotless meander with no protagonist a finished novel.  I kept working on drafts of it, trying to send it out, somewhat clueless to its pointlessness.  Then in 2004 I tried another novel- a non-genre one called Long Night of the Pieman.  This didn't really come together at all. 

In 2005 I tried my first (failed) attempt at USS Banshee, which was a mess.  Mostly because this attempt to write it was semi-public, in that I was posting 3-5K chunks online every week, like it was a serial.  While that worked nicely on a motivational level, it again was a failure in terms of actually writing something good.  Over the years, I've kept coming back to that space-opera verse, trying to find the story... and I think I finally have.  But, along the way, everything except the main character and, tangentially, the name of the ship has been scuttled.  It's a completely different story than the first one I was doing.  And that's good, because again: plotless meander.

Also in 2005 I took my first shot at Crown of Druthal, which was, I was convinced at the time, going to be the Real Deal.    I even took the fist chapter of Crown to the ArmadilloCon Writers Workshop, my first time attending it.  It was shredded.  At the time, I was all, "What do these people know?", thinking they were fools.  In retrospect, they were right on the money, but I wasn't in a place to hear that at the time.

2006 didn't see much progress in any of these projects-- all of them, as well as a few other vague ideas, didn't ever coalesce into anything.  Frankly, it was a terrible year for me as a writer.  Nothing was coming together.  Not coincidentally, my day job at the time utterly depressed me, and my health and weight were probably at the worst in my life.

In 2007, I turned that around: I left that job, dropped 35 pounds, and put my nose to the grindstone, finishing the draft of Crown.  I also came up with the initial ideas that would evolve into Thorn of Dentonhill, Holver Alley Crew, Maradaine Constabulary and Way of the Shield

In 2008, I worked on a new draft of Crown, and started attending SlugTribe meetings, bringing chapters of Crown with me.  I also wrote the first draft of Thorn, the first chapter of which I brought to ArmadilloCon.  This was the year when things started coming together.

In '09, I rewrote Thorn and wrote the first draft of Holver Alley.  I also started shopping Thorn to agents.  Now, one thing to note: this draft of Thorn was 70,000 words long.  I didn't think this was a problem, though most of my queries were getting form rejected or ignored.

But then there was one, at the end of the year-- an agent who said, in essence: I love this, but I can't sell it at this length.  Rewrite it to 90K and get back to me.

So 2010 was, in no small part, about adding 20,000 words to a novel that was already pretty tight, as well as cleaning up Holver Alley to a respectable draft.  I also wrote My Name Is Avenger Girl, which I sold to Paige Ewing's The Protectors, as well as selling my piece to the Hint Fiction anthology.  I also started the rough draft of Maradaine Constabulary.

In 2011, that same agent who advised me on Thorn loved the re-write, and agreed to represent me.  I then sent him Holver Alley as well, while getting the rough draft of Constabulary finished. I also started being on the Teacher's side of the ArmadilloCon Writers' Workshop.

Bringing us to last year.  Finished Constabulary and send it to the agent.  Started the rough draft of Way of the Shield.  Did another round of re-writes on Thorn, Holver Alley and Constabulary by my agent's request, which also helped me strengthen the worldbuilding ties between them all.  Wrote and sold Jump the Black to Rayguns Over Texas.  OK, technically, the Rayguns sale came in on January 1st.  Making a great start to 2013.

So where will 2013-- and with it my forties-- take me?  With three novels out there shopping, and a fourth one (and fifth, really) in process... I hopeful that this year will be a Big Year for me as a writer. 

Cross your fingers.

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