So you’re new to reading this? Fantastic, I’m new to writing it. Together we’re going to experience what the road to publication holds. The manuscripts done and the revisions are complete (I think, wait no, I hope!). I’ve had outside eyes read the novel and welcomed both positive and negative critiques. But am I ready? To answer that question first let us think of my brave volunteer readers.
To have somebody reading something you’ve spent a large amount of time and brain power developing is…a different sort of feeling. It’s exciting and scary and you spend each waking moment wondering if they’ve read it. Are they enjoying it? Did it catch them? Are they speed-reading to get through to the end because they HAVE to know what’s going to happen, or is the writing so atrocious that they see it on their coffee table and IRK at the thought of having to pick it up? They wonder “Why oh why did I agree to read this? Maybe I can just pretend I read it and tell him that I liked it. But then he might ask me what my favorite part was and what will I say? I know. I’ll read a chapter in the middle and then if he asks I’ll just tell him that was my favourite part.” Okay it’s probably not as outrageous as that, but it’s close. I first want to thank all the brave souls that stepped up and took the plunge for me, and I’m happy to report that most enjoyed it, but hey, you can’t please everybody.
So back to the question: Am I ready? I have no formal writing experience, in fact other than a 19,000 word manuscript I started – and quit – a year before this one, I’ve never written much of anything. I didn’t pay attention in English class, I didn’t read the books they gave me to study, and in fact, up until about 4 years ago I could count on one hand the amount of books I’d read cover to cover.
Then something hit me, my wife introduces me to Laurell K. Hamilton and I’m engulfed into a world of vampires, sex, and violence – what more could I want? Suddenly, I discover a love for books. I can fall into a world that somebody else has created. They’ve taken a single idea and spun it into 400 pages I can’t wait to read, but still, there is something missing.
I know! I need to write a book. I’ve had ideas churning and burning through my mind for decades and I’ve never actually tried to put them on paper. That’s it, I’m doing it. I, Matthew Robert Merrick am going to write a book. And then a year goes by and I never got around to it.
After a few years and a single very rough week, I decide to open the laptop and fire up Microsoft Word. I start writing, I don’t know what I’m writing, I’m just writing. Anytime I’ve gone through a rough time in my life there were two things that got me through it, writing poetry (not very well) and music (I’m a fanatic). But I don’t start writing a poem, I start writing something that I would love to read in a book. I create these characters that I need to know and a world I want to see. To my surprise, there’s something here, something real and it’s jumping of the page at me. Looking at the clock I see I’ve been writing for 5 hours and I’m 25 pages into something, I don’t know what it is, but I like it.
Thirteen months later and some 2000 hours, I’m holding a completed version of what turns out to be my novel. By this point I’ve realized it’s a book and one I hope to make into a series. I’ve drafted it several times but now what? I’ve done research in my down time the past year and I know –with a mild understanding – how the process works. Research the agent, write a stellar single page letter from hell and then I’m rich…wait what? That’s not how it really happens? I wish someone would have told me this 13 months ago. Sheesh!
So here we are; I have a completed query letter and a completed manuscript, so I send it out to a single agent to test the waters. Then there is the first rejection. Now I’m questioning everything I’ve done. The letter, my book, my idea… I decide it’s all garbage. Then five minutes later I’m back to normal and I’m going to make this work. I realize my query letter isn’t written properly, it’s the 15th version I’ve written and it still isn’t right? Are you kidding me? So back to the drawing boards.
More research, more query letter examples, and more examining my novel – while equally annoying my wife who is ready to scream if I ask her to read the same line one more time. “I swear dear, it’s different. See, I added a word there, doesn’t that make it like…so much better?” She’s not impressed, but alas I push through and I think I have it. Only time will tell.
So now that you’re up to speed on where I’ve been the last year (I know you were dying to know) we can safely say I’m not sure if I’m ready. I want to be ready, I want to be confident, and I want to be brave, but I’m overanalyzing everything and I’m scared. Scared to fail, and scared to succeed, but I’m going to do it anyways, it’s time to throw it out there and see if it can swim. After all, in the words or someone or something other than me “It’s not brave if you’re not scared”.
So, why are YOU here you ask? I’ve decided to bring you along on this journey for more than just the sheer pleasure I know you’ll derive from seeing me rejected time and time again. Yes, you read correctly, there is a motive behind this in the grand scheme of things.
I want everybody to have the chance to learn from both my triumphs (I hope I have some) and my failures (I know I’ll have a lot) on how the process works. In the next while I’ll be posting my query letter and I welcome any and all comments both positive and negative, but let’s try to keep the criticisms constructive shall we? Later, we’ll review the first few pages and chapters of my book. Perhaps you can learn something from my query and novel to help perfect yours, or maybe my work is terrible and in desperate need of a makeover. Maybe you have just the right advice for me and together we can trump the system.
There is nothing better for any of us writers than having a support system. My wife is wonderful and I love her. Without her my novel would not be what it is today. She was my sounding board throughout this whole process and she knows the story and characters as well as I do, but…she is not a writer. I’m hoping this will help others gain information into the process and perfect their craft, all the while receiving your opinion to help in improving my own, and of course, entertain you all the while (a huge feat I know, but I will do my best).
So there it is, the books done, the query’s done, and I’m about to set foot on the path to author-dom…Or something. So please, join me in my journey and let’s see what kind of adventure we can find ourselves in. Who knows, maybe will break down the door of the big bad literary agent and bring him to his knees in a cry for more of our work.