Friday, December 5, 2008

Finally an Update

It's been weeks since I announced I was taking a blogging break so I could focus on the novel manuscript that I wanted to finish up before Christmas. Some of you have asked me how that's coming along. I'm pleased to report that I made a lot of progress, although not as much as I'd hoped. Actually, I'd hoped to be finished by now, but that didn't happen. But I do have a rough, rough draft and am now into the rewriting phase, which is much easier for me.

I definitely need this to be easier. Writing this manuscript has been one of the toughest projects I've ever tackled--not because the story was all that difficult. I think the real problem has been my attitude. Pardon me if you've heard this story before, but some of you have asked so I figure it bears repeating. (And if you would like to hear my original whining, click here.)

My agent swears that the only real way for me to break into publishing is to write category romance novels, like for Steeple Hill. She does not say that writing these books is easy, just that there are more opportunities for new writers in this genre. I resisted for ages, particularly since I don't usually read those novels. I have nothing against them; we just all have our preferences, and romance novels are not one of mine.

Furthermore, I'm long-winded, I love subplots, and I enjoy playing with language and mood and atmosphere. And that's the type of book I've been writing. And trying to sell. And not selling.

I pointed out to Janet, my agent, that if I can't compete and get a contract with a novel I think plays to my strengths, how will I compete against all those other writers who love category romance--and are already good at it? But she's the agent God sent me and I didn't want to look back on my life and think I was too stubborn to take this opportunity. So I'm trying.

I sent the first three chapters to her a few weeks ago for review, and she had loads of problems with them. I wasn't surprised, since I'm so out of place with this genre. Writing those chapters, I felt as though every word were being pulled out of me, like a tooth or a fingernail. Makes me hurt just thinking about it.

I rewrote the chapters as best I could and send them to Janet, along with a note asking her to feel free to tell me if she thought I was struggling with this category too much, or just wasn't "getting it." That even though I had put in a good bit of time on a first draft, I didn't mind admitting that I stink at this (I put it more professionally than that) and move on. I had folks praying for me that weekend, that God would show me how to proceed based on her response. I was almost hoping she would tell me to stop.

Instead, she said I was now on track, the story was fast-moving and had likeable characters, and she definitely thought I should go for it. So I guess God isn't ready to release me from this yet!

I'd love to think that means I'll publish this novel, but I know from experience that isn't necessarily the case. There are other things He may want me to take away from the experience. I'm having to learn to focus, to make every word count, to skip the atmosphere and get to the action. While I don't want to lose my own voice, it certainly doesn't hurt me to learn to write cleaner and not allow myself to ramble. (Just read a few of these blog posts if you'd like confirmation of that!)

Since Janet told me I'm on the right track, my attitude has been better and I'm finding my rewrites to be easier--like yanking out a hair instead of a fingernail. I think I had been struggling with fear and a sort of hopelessness, not believing this had a chance. I needed that encouragement.

And even though I didn't finish during my blogging break, I still hope to be finished by the end of the year. Yikes! I just realized that's less than four weeks away.

I better sign off and get to writing!