How many times have we all heard that every aspiring writer’s journey toward publication is fraught with numerous obstacles and detours? Regardless of how well we’re prepared, the pace we proceed at, or the measure of our wide open eyes, there’s just no way around them. I ran into mine three weeks ago. Not so much a bump in the road, but a pot-hole, rather…a crater. It was a hazard that a toughened road crew, wearing yellow hard hats and their clothes dripping with sweat must have toiled long and hard to dig…then camouflage. And when I hit it, instead of the ground disappearing beneath me, I found myself fighting for traction on a slippery slope.
Afterwards, shaken and unsure of anything and everything, I surveyed the damage to my pedantic vehicle. It was going to take a lot more than a wheel alignment to get it back on the road. Yet there was something else even more dire, my will to drive, to continue the voyage, was now in question. So I simply did what every well adjusted adult does when faced with a reality jolt, I turned around and walked away. I left my imaginary vehicle behind, along with the path that was suddenly covered with literary acne.
There wasn’t a single inciting event that created my particular bump in the road, but rather a culmination of several. First and foremost was my job. Over the past several months the demands and pressures at work have steadily been increasing, making it harder and harder for me to come home at night and spend more hours in front of the PC. It was draining my creative energy and all I wanted to do when I got home was zone out in front of the TV. The frame of mind I was in had a lot to do with how I reacted to what followed.
With the help of my awesome CP’s I have been thoroughly revising my manuscript and just recently put a new version out for beta’s to read, fully confident my book was ready to query. I even had what I thought was a dynamite query letter all ready to go. Imagine my surprise when the feedback I received back from my beta’s was less than enthusiastic, pointing out many of the same flaws my CP’s had brought to light (mainly with shallow POV), and I thought had been addressed. What I’d learned was I had written a GOOD book, but I knew that in order to achieve the results I desired, it had to be GREAT. On top of that, the query letter I was so proud of and posted here on my blog, was rightfully shredded by commenter’s (which I’m very thankful for!).
Que the sound of screeching tires!
One moment I went from researching which agents I planned on contacting, to facing the daunting challenge of going through my manuscript scene by scene again to bring more depth to my characterizations, a skill I’m wondering now if I even possess. Factor in the frame of mind I mentioned earlier and my resulting fetal position response might be understandable. I turned off my home computer and ignored anything remotely writing related, which included the blogs.
The bottom line is…I’m still here! (as if I was even missed) Let me tell you why. Although none of the issues outlined above have changed, especially the confidence in my writing ability, time and distance has allowed me to realize that I do believe 110% in the characters and story I’m trying to tell. They deserve nothing but my best effort. Until I’m certain that I’ve reached my full capability as a writer, I’ll keep plugging away at it. That also means I’ll be hanging out here for a bit longer.
Yesterday I peeked at my Google reader for the first time and discovered while I was away licking my wounds, I missed 994 posts by the bloggers I follow the most. *deep sigh* I’ll never get back the three weeks I was away, or the blog posts I missed, but you’ll have to trust me that it was time well-spent.
I’ve read many similar accounts of what I went through on other blogs and learned that taking a step back can return much needed perspective. This post is about me paying that knowledge forward, and taking my first step toward rebuilding.
Maybe someday I’ll even consider this a merit badge earned.