Monday, October 6, 2014

Dreams: My Writing Journey to Success, Part 1 of 2

Expect your dreams to come true, but the road is not always as expected. It will be longer and harder than first imagined. It will also be worth it. 

Once upon a time I read a certain book and thought, I can write something that good, so I took on the task. I had always enjoyed creative writing back in my school days. My new project fulfilled me creatively and I spent several months until I had a completed manuscript. That in itself gives a great sense of accomplishment. Was it any good? I really didn't know. It was time to risk sharing it with others.

Parts were interesting, but it was in no way refined. A close relative really liked one of the chapters. This, I learned later, was where the greatest conflict lay. I had much to learn. Imagine that. A big goal was completed and the next phase set aside for a busy year of building a home.

Once settled in our new home, a neighbor found out of my interest in writing and asked me to join a critique group. I didn't realize how much this would teach me. It is stimulating to see your writing grow by leaps and bounds--fueling my desire. I started a new project and attended a few writer's conferences. My eyes were opened wider.

I entered the polished first chapter (meaning several tweaks and critical eyes had scanned it) into two contest, winning first place in both for my category. More fuel. I could do this! I worked to get the rest of the story, then titled The Seventh City, into shape. It had a problem in the climax that I didn't know how to fix, but I figured I had done my best. Finding very few beta readers to give feedback, I grew impatient and submitted my story to a few publishers. It came back REJECTED.

This would be an easy place to give up. But I loved writing and felt I had something to offer, so I went on to another project. After a break, I came back to the award-winning story and worked through a fix to the climax. One beta reader was especially helpful and I revised a bit more. I submitted again, including the best fit for my LDS audience, telling the publisher that changes had been made.

I received two rejections and then ... an acceptance! Doing the Happy Dance. The new title is Secrets of the King's Daughter: A Book of Mormon Romance.

How long did it take for my dream to come true? I should have kept better track, but I'm going to guestimate here. Keep in mind that your schedule will be different.
  • Writing the first draft had to take 1 1/4 years with sending my critique group pages nearly every week.
  • Revisions would take another few months, say 1/4 year.
  • Waiting for readers to complete an entire read-through took another 1/4 year.
  • Miscellaneous time ignoring the book and later readying for submissions, 1/4 year. 
The dream of writing a complete novel worthy of publication took me at least 2 years. You could be a faster/slower writer, have less/more writing time available, or need less/more craft development. But hey, time is going to pass by anyway, so go for it!
That was 1.5 years ago. Find out what happened next in the next post.


Tera Mecham said...

Congratulations, Renae! That is an amazing journey. Thanks for sharing.

Renae Mackley said...

Thanks, Tera. Of course this is condensed and little ups and downs go along with these major points. I hope we all can enjoy the journey.