Raise your hand if you're jealous of Jill?
Both my hands are sky high over here, by the way.
This weekend Jill's tearing it up, teaching the teen track at Realm Makers, and we're all wishing her a fantastic time. I've told myself for a year that I'll make the two hour drive to Reno and hit this new conference created just for writers of speculative fiction, but life is a crazy thing and I'm not going to make it up the hill. I am however going to make it to my son's football shindig and my twenty year high school reunion.
Twenty years, you guys! I'm feeling a little gray just talking about it. But you know what gray hair means? Oodles and oodles of failures and some successes too.
So let's talk about it.
We talk a lot about the importance of allowing our characters to try and even fail in our stories. What is one thing you've failed at before you found success?
So many things, really! It’s what makes try/fail cycles so fantastic inside storytelling. Life is full of failures and it’s the getting up and trying again that matters. Angel Eyes had three different prologues at one point. I tried to start the story from inside Marco’s head and then from inside Jake’s head. Neither worked. Neither accomplished what I needed it to accomplish. In the end, the story began with an omniscient narrator. When I finally got it right, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
The Lost Girl of Astor Street. I had never written a historical or a mystery, so I was learning two new genres at the same time made for a very messy first draft. My second draft was more like a rewrite, and there were times that I was convinced I would never get the book to a place where I was happy with it. Fortunately, with the help of Roseanna, Shannon, Jill, and my agent, I finally got the story to a good enough place that Blink bought it.
I would say writing a book well. As I’ve shared before, I thought my first book was “all that.” But it stank. The idea was good. And I have a gift for natural dialogue, so that was always fairly descent. But I was telling and not showing. And I had no plot. I simply liked to write about the people I’d created, follow them around, get them into trouble (which was good!), but I had very little plan. I must have rewritten The New Recruit three times before I decided what would help was to write book two. So I wrote book two, which had the same characters. It did stretch me a little, since the situation was different, but when I continued to receive rejections on book one, I got frustrated. I wrote some other things. A book about an Inupiat girl moving to the city. A modern-day retelling of Anne of Green Gables with many points of views. A book about a boy escaping a cloning lab. A book about a slave boy who began to hear voices. That last one was the story that became By Darkness Hid, my first published book. And it would be several years before I rewrote The New Recruit again, finally found Spencer’s voice by turning the story to first person, and had the book published. The New Recruit was the first book I started, the book I rewrite more times than any other, and the fifth book I had published. So, don’t give up!
I'm with Jill! DON'T GIVE UP! Failure just means you're trying. And trying hard things is incredibly brave. So, tell us. What is one thing you've failed at? Have you found success in that area yet? Or did that failure spur you into another direction?