Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If I knew then what I know now...

Today our guest blogger is Erica Vetsch, author of The Bartered Bride, The Marriage Masquerade, Clara and the Cowboy, and several other soon-to-be-released novels. Erica and I met a couple years ago at a writers conference in Florida. She had a headache, I'd brought aspirin, and we've been frien

ds every since. Erica's here today, and then also on Thursday when she'll be talking about descriptions. (Something she's way more qualified to talk about than I am!)

Okay, enough of me talking. Onto Erica:

Every week on my blog I have a Friday Five—five things about me, or writing, or life in general that I post. This is one of the favorite posts among my blog readers. When Stephanie invited me here to g

uest blog, she suggested I do a “Five” for you all, and I leapt at the chance.

So, today’s ‘Five’ is: Five things I wish I had known when I was first starting out on the writing journey.

· Rejection is not only possible, it’s probable.

Ø As I was crafting my ‘heart-breaking work of staggering genius’ I just assumed everyone would love it as much as I did. Agents would be clamoring to represent me, editors would be dueling on the village green to see who got to publish my work, and the reading public would be camping out the night before my debut novel released and would be stampeding bookstores to get their hands on a copy. That debut novel was rejected by every

publisher in the Christian Booksellers Association. And rightly so, because it reeked.

· The best writing is rewriting, and rewriting entails a lot more than double-checking your punctuation usage.

Ø I can’t believe now how little work I was willing to do on rewrites. I had no idea how to edit a manuscript. Now that I’ve been through the editing process a few times, I know it’s a lot deeper. In fact, this past month, I gutted 1/3 of a completed manuscript and rewrote it in the editing process.

If you’re a little fuzzy on this as I was, I recommend a few things.

§ Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell

§ Any class taught by Angela Hunt. You can get a recording of her Fiction Workshop for a fairly reasonable price here.

§ Critique partners.

· The value of contests.

Ø I wish I had known just how much writing contests would benefit my work. I entered some with the HBWoSG mentioned above, got my scores back, and promptly decided contest judges were idiots. They just didn’t ‘get’ my writing. They were mean, frustrated, unpublished authors who wanted only to jeer at other’s work that was so superior to anything they could write themselves. (Yeesh, I was a pain.) Having learned and grown enough to finally realize I DIDN’T know everything, I came to understand the value of having my work critiqued by professionals. Every last thing they said and marked me down for on that entry was absolutely correct. I am now a category coordinator for a major fiction contest and a contest judge myself. I believe in the contest process, how valuable it can be to get an objective opinion on your work, and how winning contests, and even more NOT winning contests, prepares you for the life of a published author.

· That I should’ve studied juggling.

Ø When I first started out, I was very linear. I worked on one book from concept to completion. I didn’t begin a new project until I had finished the old. I now know that I can’t do this anymore. At any given time, I might have several books in several stages of the process of publication. Rough draft, content edits, copy edits, galley proofs, new release, repackage design. In one two week stretch this past spring, I worked on four different novels in various stages of completion. I’ve learned to put aside all the other stories and focus on just the one that needs my attention at that moment.

· The amazing sense of fulfillment writing would give me.

Ø Not just publication, but the writing process. I love to tell stories, I love history, and I love romance. Writing fiction allows me to combine all the things I love, use my gifts and talents, and hopefully deliver something folks would like to read.

ERICA VETSCH is married to
Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at www.onthewritepath.blogspot.com


  1. Great tips! I especially like the one about the juggling. Thanks for the tipoff to this blog, Erica. Looking forward to following it now. :-)

  2. Great advice, Erica! Good to read your post on Stephanie's blog.

  3. Oh man.. I'm going to have to work on the juggling.

    The last time I tried to simultaneously write on two manuscripts, I got confused with the characters and their personalities, however, since then I've done character sheets...it still scares me.
    I guess I'd better learn it, though!

    Thanks for the advice, Erica.

  4. Hey, Wendy, Yay! Glad you found this blog. :)

    Caroline, will you be in Indy in Sept?

    Kelly, you can do it! I thought I would get muddled, but I was surprised how quickly I fell back into the right story world. Character sheets are a great idea to keep things straight, even if you're just working on one project.

  5. Ever feel like you're so good at juggling that circus music ought to fill the room the moment you sit down at your computer? =) Ah yes, the life of a writer.

    Great tips!