This past week has been a whirlwind for me. I’ve had so many ups and downs in my writing life, I’ve had a hard time keeping up. Now that I think about it, it was more of a whirlwind couple of days that felt like a lifetime. I entered PitchWars this year via Twitter, and found out on Wednesday (I think it was Wednesday, like I said it was hard to keep up) that I wasn’t picked to be a mentee. To be fair, I think around 2000 people entered and only around 200 were picked. Not good odds. My hopes weren’t pinned to high on this, and I told myself it wasn’t that big of a deal. Then Friday came. A publisher had requested a partial and Friday was D-Day. I think I checked my email close to fifty times before the one came through I was waiting for. Yet again, I wasn’t picked. At the same time I received an email from a woman who agreed to look at my first couple of chapters and critique them for me. Wow, buddy, did she have a lot to say! It felt like I’d been punched in the gut not once, but twice. I saw the big fat no from the publisher, I saw all of the problems a fellow writer thought I had with my MS, and I wanted to crawl into a big ball in the corner and just cry. Unfortunately, I had family in town and I had to pretend nothing was amiss and attempt to enjoy the limited time I had with my sister and dad.
After some time passed, I opened both emails again and was surprised at what a different perspective I had.. The publisher had some very positive things to say about what she read, and was kind enough to give me some amazing feedback on what to work on. Not only that, but she told me if I chose to make some of the changes she recommended she would love to review my work again. I took a breath, feeling a little better, and opened the second email again from my CP. There were so many notes, I was completely overwhelmed! But when I dove in to what she had to say, I was so appreciative of the fact that this woman I’ve never met would take the time to pick apart my work and dissect it and give me tips on how to make it better. She wasn’t trying to tear me down, she was trying to help build me up and make me better. I sat down and took her advice and holy schnikes, my chapters are SOOO much better!
So, I went from down and out and ready to quit, to feeling optimistic for the future and ready to work to get to a better place. And also, so appreciative that PitchWars led me to such amazing people who are willing to give up their time to help me. I also realized I was completely naïve about this whole writing thing! I studied the numbers, I know the likelihood of getting an agent and being published. What I didn’t realize was how hard the actual writing would be! Sitting down and writing out the thoughts in my mind has always been fairly easy to me. My husband sill laughs about how I’d sit down the night before a 20-page paper was do and knock it out in a couple of hours…usually with a beer in hand…and always get an A. What I didn’t understand is the art of writing a novel. The art of using the right words, or not using the ones you want, to make the sentences flow better. I didn’t know about the craft. I didn’t study my craft.
I should smack my own face here. Most people don’t know that I started out as a Creative Writing major in college. That’s the whole reason I attended Bowling Green State University, so I could study creative writing. The only career I ever considered was being a writer. But when I came in to school as a timid and shy freshmen and discovered I would have to read some of my work in front of every student in my major to graduate, I panicked. I fled. I quit. I changed my major seven times (Should have been a clue that nothing else was the right fit!). I know the choices I made led me where I am and so I wouldn’t change that, but I want to go back and kick my ass for quitting the one thing I really wanted to do. I should have known there was going to be more to writing a book than simply sitting down and pouring my heart and soul into my pages. I mean, hell, I was planning on spending forty thousand dollars to figure out how to do this at one point.
So now it’s time to crack open some books and get to work. I hope I’m able to keep getting awesome critiques from the new people in my life, but I need to do some studying of my own. I need to figure out the correct way to pour my heart and soul into my pages. I need to discover all the amazing resources out there that can help me be a better writer. (Does anyone have any suggestions?) I need to learn my craft so I can go all the way with this writing thing. And then I need to go back to BGSU and read my own stuff in front of all those creative writing majors. I might not be able to go back in time and kick my own ass, but maybe I’ll get the privilege of kicking someone else’s….I mean inspire some one else. And if my CP is reading this, yes I know my sentences are too long but it’s a blog so I’m taking some creative license!