Thursday, August 13, 2009

On the Outer Fringes

I'm discouraged. I know, it's part of the writer's life and I accept that, but every now and then, we writers just need to sit and let the ink run.

I've been working on my Carolina blog for three years. I spend a lot of time researching and writing articles for it. It's fun, and I enjoy it, but--to be honest here--I want my work to be wanted. Although a Carolina television station once featured it on their morning news show, my numbers remain modest.

Then, yesterday, in a fit of laziness, I posted numerous photos of a North Carolina destination with very little text and phoom! Over a hundred and thirty hits in less than an hour, from over fourteen countries.

And that doesn't even cover my novel writing. On that front, I sent the first few chapters of a recent project to the instructor of a workshop I'm about to attend. She commented back saying, basically, I'm getting there, and she'll be happy to help.

That thing went through my critique group twice.

I often hear, "You write so well!" and "I know you'll be published". One author told me "I think you may have something here" and a crit by a well-known writers' organization encouraged me with "(Your work) is smooth, polished. If you're not published, you should be looking for an agent". Then contest judges ripped apart my entries.

I've often heard published authors say they didn't want to write, but God wouldn't let them go until they did. I wish people wouldn't say things like that around me. That and, "So-and-So read my work and they're helping me out." Or, "[Name of kind person] is taking me under their wing."

Or, "My (first) book was accepted by (the first) publisher I queried!"

I'm happy for you people, really.

Alas, after five years, I wonder what's to become of my novels. But I serve a sovereign God, and know His will will happen in His time. Things haven't turned out well in the past when I fought for something I wanted, and through those mistakes, I've learned to trust my Heavenly Father.

But one must have a purpose, a motivation to edge them toward the goal. How far can the entertainment value in writing carry me?

Sighs.

That's it. That's my discouragement discourse for now. The ink is drying, and it's time to get caught up on a few tasks. After that, I'll finish a chapter of my latest work. After all, I can't leave a bunch of characters hanging around in storyworld waiting to learn their fates. Heh, I know all to well how that feels.

2 comments:

Pam Zollman said...

Please don't be discouraged. Keep writing! Yes, I sold my first novel at a conference and had never sent it out to anyone before that. HOWEVER, I'd been writing for children (magazine articles and short stories) for seven years before that happened. And I'd been writing for adults (magazine articles and failed romance novels) for about 15 years before that. So my overnight success actually took about 23 years. Sigh. I strugged writing for adults, because I thought that was supposed to be my audience, but when I switched my focus to kids, I suddenly (suddenly, as in after 15 YEARS) found my niche. While I only sold about 3 stories out of every 10 I'd write (and I was writing a short story a week), I figured I was as good as a batter in major league baseball. I just kept writing and writing and writing. I tried my hand at picture books, but they all wound up being short stories. And then, one day, an editor did take me under her wing (Patti Gauche at Highlight's Chautauqua) and told me I had a middle-grade voice and I should write novels. So I did. But I never ever sold her anything. Writers have to have alligator skin, tough enough to resist the sting of rejection (who am I kidding? Rejection always hurts. It's just easier when you've got more than one thing in the mail -- there's always hope!). So have you tried to write anything short? Short stories for a magazine? Picture books? Play around with some of these other forms of writing and put some in the mail. Since these are for fun and won't take as long to write, you won't have as much at stake if they come back. Then just pick another market and sent it back out (one of Pam's Pointers: never sleep under the same roof with a rejected manuscript. Get it back in the mail! A manuscript in the drawer is rejected. A manuscript in the mail is not.). Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing. There's an editor out there who is waiting for your manuscript. All it takes is one.
Pam Zollman (www.pamzollman.com, www.anauthorworld.com, www.write2ignite.com, pam.zollman@gmail.com)

Kimberli said...

Hi Pam. Thanks for your encouraging words, and for the excellent advice. It stirs so many unanswered questions I have. And since you teach writing, I'll share them with you. Perhaps you can use them to help your students!

Part of my frustration stems from my own mistakes--like so many authors, I jumped into the industry long before I was ready. But like those other authors, I wasn't aware of that. Upon that discovery, I focused on learning the craft. Not submitting, just learning. I subject my material to critique. I make advances in my writing only to have someone tell me I'm "getting there". Where is there? What is my writing lacking that keeps me from getting there, and how can I determine when my work is ready to be sent "out there"?

I like your advice to keep writing. I finished the first draft of the story I worked on during last year's writers retreat, and then completed the first revision. I'm now working on two projects. I also maintain my Carolina Towns and Trails blog, and recently learned the Chicago Sun Times, Reuters, Fox News and other online publications have distributed several of my posts via BlogBurst. However, I'm not trained as a journalist. While I took a class on magazine writing, subsequent queries were rejected. Normal, I know. But again, I'm missing something, and I don't know what that something is.

I tried a short story and it turned into a novel, heh. I have no passion whatsoever for children's material. No offense to the kiddos out there. I've not gone far with article writing (outside of my blog, and I didn't receive payment for that.) I've written several articles for employers in the past. It was as fun as accounting.

This may be me justifying my situation, but as I recently inquired on another blog, is it possible that some people just aren't cut out for professional publishing? Yes, I have that deep desire and urge to write, and to write well, and to share a message through that writing, but does that mean the logical conclusion is publishing? After all, I also like to sing, but I'm far from American Idol material.

If the answer to that question is yes, then what can I do with the novels I complete?

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your input!