3 S.R. Johannes: Toot Toot - Says my Horn

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Toot Toot - Says my Horn

After the conference this past weekend, no matter how great it was and how full I felt afterwards, I still found myself disappointed on Sunday night. For those of you who do not know me - this is not surprising. Because I am by nature a pessimist, a problem solver, and always seem to find a crack in a seemingly-perfect world. When great things happen, I tend to look up waiting for a piece of my "happy place" to fall.

Don't get me wrong - I love going to conference, they inspire me, push me, teach me, and I leave feeling happy. But soon after I return home, I begin to dwell on how hard it is to get published, how hard the biz is, and how far I seem to be away from really getting published. That's OK. I go through a period of feeling pressure to finish, pressure to submit, and pressure to write more.

This year, I made some pretty aggressive goals at the conference:
  1. Write 15 hrs a week - whether it be blogging or working on my novel
  2. Submit to agents this year as opposed to publishers
  3. Research agents my top 20 agents/agencies
  4. Submit query package by end of Oct.

So far I have written about 2 hrs a day - leaving me at about 6 hrs thru Wed (week is Mon-Fri so I still have time). I did not realize a few things, when I made these goals. Kinda like when you make a NY years resolution to loose weight but then realize you eat bags of MMs at midnight. (Wait - do those things NOT go together?) But I am motivated by achievement and the flaw of never going back on my word -so I push forward. Soon I realize:

  1. I have to give up Wipeout. (You'd be surprised how much time you can squeeze out of a night when you turn off the T.V.)
  2. I lose 2 hrs of sleep a night. (Unfortunately I am a procrastinator so by the time I start writing, I go to bed later. Yawn - no pain, no gain!)
  3. I need more MMs (which now means I have to work out more. There adds another 5 hrs a week.)

I digress.

Sunday night, I sent a prayer to all the world about positivity and peace. But I snuck in one of my own :)

Give me a sign that I am doing the right thing!

You see, sometimes I need to know I am on the right path. That I am broke for something. That I miss my daughter's soccer game for a rare conference. That I miss Wipeout or Grey's Anatomy to write. That I use my family's money to go to conferences, send out packets, buy books. I need to be reminded it is not all just a big waste.

I digress!

After my prayer, I went to sleep thinking and envisioning myself as a published, bestselling author, being interviewed on Oprah. (Doesn't every writer do that?)

The next morning, I wake up to a critique sitting in my inbox. I have been a part of a 6 week class where 2 experienced editors throw darts and rip holes in my "once-completed" manuscript as I fight through a sea of revisions and replotting. I am all for revising but this was chopping and cutting and twisting everything my mind had organized. Needless, to say the last 6 weeks have been very hard! And at times, I wanted to give up but I kept going because I believe in this book. For the record - it is worth it. I have seen a HUGE difference in my book and know it is much better than before. But when you are in the middle of revising - you never quiet know if it is for the best until you fight your way through it. (or until you get published). I just have to trust the process. (I digress.)

I wait until I am alone (kids in school, hubby at work) before I read the email - again procrastination assuming more revisions are coming. (As a side note: this editor used to be an executive editor at Scholastic press publishing 151 books a year, with an average of 2-3 new series a year, for grades K-5, both fiction and nonfiction publishing. But who is counting! ;)

Drum roll please. Now, here are a few quotes from that critique: (please know as you read this I bawled like a baby (great just what I need is a cliche) and have been smiling every since:)

  • Great Job! I had to read this twice to try to find something... and you left my pen idle.
  • Terrific! Absolutely terrific, and I don’t get to say that very often.
  • You have mastered the major elements in these first few chapters – setting, characterization, dialogue, pacing and progression.
  • You’ve done an excellent job defining all of the characters.
  • That brings me to dialogue – you are very good at it.
  • As a reader, I was engaged immediately and I think the choice to show a future scene and then flash the reader back to what happened prior to this event, was a good one.
  • I like the cadence of your sentences. The flow between short, sharp sentences and long descriptive ones are well balanced. Your verbs and descriptions are great.
  • I don’t know how the rest of your novel reads, but if I were receiving in-house submissions, I would certainly want to see more based on these first chapters.
  • The plot is adventurous and I’d want to see how you do it. This is definitely ready for submission.

And there you have it! The blood, sweat, tears, and more tears are paying off. Thank the Lord!

This little nugget of hope was what I needed. It will push me just a bit further in this sometimes disheartening process and jumbled process - called publishing.



AlistairWells said...

Go sweetie go!!!


Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Toot! toot! Congratulations!

(Found you via SCBWI listserve.) Thanks for marketing tips!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Joyce - thx for visiting! Hope you come back.

Casey Something said...

Those are some great comments. You're getting so close!

Carrie Harris said...

There's nothing like a good critique, is there? :) And from what I read, it was absolutely well deserved.

Your comments about the tradeoff of writing really struck me, because I'm going through the same thing. I finally made a commitment to go to the gym three days a week, even if it does sink into my writing time a little. It was a difficult decision to come to, know what I mean?