I’ve been a member of the Go Teen Writer’s Community for a little over a year now, so when Stephanie offered me the chance to write a monthly column, (Thank you, Stephanie!) I jumped at the opportunity.
The purpose of these “Journey with Gillian” posts—aside from the cool title, of course—is to share with you where I am in the writing journey and the lessons I’m learning along the way.
For me, writing started as soon as I could hold a pen. My older sister was always writing something . . . so naturally, I followed in her footsteps and fell in love with the scratch of pen on paper and the clack of a keyboard. But it wasn’t until after I participated in NaNoWriMo at the age of seventeen, that I realized how much I loved writing.
And it wasn’t until after another year had passed, that I decided to look into the whole publication process and figure out if I had what it took to be an author.
My plan of attack consisted of submitting a half-baked manuscript (I considered it quite well-done at the time) to an indie publisher. I sent him a query letter, and wonder of wonders, he requested the full manuscript and then accepted it for publication!
So, I signed my first contract, dusted off my hands, and puffed a sigh of relief. Whew. Got that done. Easier than it sounded too. I was going to be an author!
And then the first round of edits came back. Ouch. Talk about an explosion of red ink. Reading through those comments was painful . . . to say the least. But I learned a lot. The hard way. Wait . . . you’re not supposed to use those -ly adverbs all the time? Wait . . . that’s telling?
Armed with my newfound knowledge, I sat down and rewrote the entire manuscript, then shipped it off to my publisher again.
He loved the changes I made! I was elated. I had this down. I knew what I had done wrong the first time and knew how to fix it. This publishing business was going to be a piece of cake!
Summer rolled around and my publisher contacted me to let me know that the company was experiencing difficult times and would be unable to publish my book.
He was very gracious about it, but I was still heartbroken. Everything I had hoped for was falling apart. I thought I must have done something wrong. My writing wasn’t good enough—I wasn’t good enough.
When I started writing, I was so inexperienced that I didn’t know I was inexperienced. Now that I have a little more experience and a little more knowledge of the writing craft, I know how much MORE experience and MORE knowledge I need.
That’s the beautiful thing about writing . . . and about life in general. It’s a continuous journey. It’s like climbing a mountain. You reach one crest only to realize that there’s another ridge beyond. Another challenge to face. More to learn. More to experience.
It’s both a daunting and encouraging thought.
Daunting when you look back and realize that the distance you’ve traveled seems infinitesimally small compared to what still lies ahead.
Encouraging because you realize that you haven’t arrived. There is still room to grow, still room to improve. Your writing isn’t perfect, and it never will be.
Now, over two years after sending out that first query and signing that first contract, I have a new contract for that same manuscript with a different publisher, just signed with an agent, and am busy writing and editing several novels.
There is still so much I have to learn. There are many times when I feel painfully inexperienced. Okay, a lot of the time. But there is room to grow, and a mountain to climb, and I’m excited to see what lies beyond the next ridge.
How about you? Are you sometimes daunted by your own inexperience? Do you feel like you’ll never make it?
Take heart! You're not alone. We can scale the writing-mountain together.
Gillian blogs over at Of Battles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant where she writes about everything relating to books, writing, fantasy, and costumes. Her book Out of Darkness Rising will be published Fall 2013.