First, I want to tell you that my blog has been nominated for Skinny Scoop’s Top 25 Recipe Blogs. The winners will be chosen based on votes, so I would absolutely love it if you’d vote for me here. I know being on that list would help my dreams come true! Please, please vote for me
It’s been awhile since I told you about my dreams of being an aspiring novelist, so I thought I’d continue that story today. For those of you new to the blog (Hi!), you can read the introduction and continuation and you should know that while I love baking and this blog, my real love lies with fiction writing. One day I know you’ll see my name on the bestsellers’ list, so keep your fingers crossed and your eyes peeled, please!
After my first novel got pretty systematically rejected, I knew I had to set it aside and start completely from scratch. There was an interesting story buried in there somewhere, but I was too close to it to be able to find it at the moment. Luckily, I’ve been jotting down writing ideas for years. Any time an idea, good or bad, fleshed out or one sentence, strikes me, I scribble it down. Most of them may never see my computer screen, but one of those may just be the one. I looked at my ideas, most of which remarkably stick in my head, and thought on them for a couple of days.
Mom had inspired one of the ideas, and I felt it was a strong one, one that I could turn into something great. The basic idea was how a family deals with death. It’s something everyone can relate to. Everyone experiences death and deals with it in different ways; no one is immune from the emotional pain and suffering it can cause.
I wrote and wrote, though this one far shorter than the first. Then I read and re-read, Mom doing the same, before the scary process of submitting to agents began again. Rejected. Rejected. Rejected. Maybe this is just another area of my life where I live in a dream world, but I didn’t think it would be this hard. Agents don’t offer advice or an explanation of your rejection, some don’t even tell you you’ve been rejected, you simply assume it after the designated period of time. I thought someone would take me under their wing, seeing potential, even in what I knew was an imperfect novel, since it hadn’t been professionally edited and I wasn’t a seasoned novelist. Agents, I realized, they don’t care about me and weren’t interested in taking a chance.
In my small circle of friends, pretty much everyone knows about my dreams and has helped in ways they can, though there aren’t many. Many acquaintances know someone who knows someone who could maybe potentially help, but it’s funny how none of those things ever pan out. However, one couple, Rob and Teresa, that we know offered to read and critique it as they read frequently. Teresa in particular reads constantly and believed she’d learned quite a bit about the basics of writing a novel from all of said reading. I appreciated their offer and took them up on it, understanding it would be difficult for them to give me critiques as well as for me to take them. We had to put our friendship aside and consider this as a strictly business proposition.
From literally page one, they tore my book up and down. The problems ranged from minor things like introducing a character without establishing their name to the rather more important and much more difficult to fix fact that they hated my main character. Hated her. I still don’t entirely understand why, but since I hadn’t read a book since high school, I took their word for it. I never got offended at their opinions. I needed to hear them, needed someone to give me an idea of why my novel was continually hitting the rejection pile. Clearly they couldn’t know what the agents were thinking, but I figured their issues with my novel could be some of the issues agents were having as well. I still appreciate their assistance and honesty.
After reading through all of the comments, and there were tons, I had some major homework. The first thing I needed to do was start reading again. I couldn’t write excellent novels without reading other excellent novels. It was pretty much impossible. Theresa lent me some books, while I headed to my bookshelf for more and Barnes and Noble to make the stack even bigger. Reading helped me discover some pretty basic rules that most novels abide by, and it also showed me some things I didn’t want to do, didn’t like reading in other books. I read more books I didn’t like than those of which I couldn’t stop singing the praises, but reading a book I love is like magic. I still love reading books of all genres, and believe it has made me a better writer. I thank Teresa for giving me the shove I needed to hit the books again.
Of course the other thing I had to do was decide where to go with my book. As much as I was enjoying reading, it wasn’t going to magically fix my novel. Instead of going page by page and trying to rewrite one thing at a time, a process that I’m not convinced wouldn’t have been impossible, I took the same idea behind the novel and wrote an entirely new and separate story. That’s right, novel three. It was fun and quick to write, knowing the mistakes I made the last time and trying my hardest to avoid them. All that was left to do was hope that this time agents would be more receptive. Keep your fingers crossed until the next part in my writing adventure.