The Power of Progress

October 18, 2012

When I first started writing, I joined email lists and online communities for information and support. I read blogs and books on craft. I signed up for and participated in workshops. Lots of the knowledge I gained caused me to panic. Find your voice. Know the market. Write the book of your heart. Kill your darlings. The advice was daunting, because frankly I wasn’t sure what any of it meant.

I sort of expected to be a pain free, slush pile success story. I knew most writers wrote for years before they sold, but I dreamed of being among the one percent (I’m not even sure that’s an accurate percent for this. Wait, I’m sure it’s not. I made it up, encouraged by all the political speak around this time of year.) who sold their first manuscript on the first try. Of course, that didn’t happen for me. Although my first manuscript on my first try did get a partial request from an agent I respect. Looking back, I can see how lucky I was to have that. And then looking back on all of it—the almost three years I’ve been writing with the goal of publication—I realize I’ve come a long way. My writing has come a long way. And that didn’t happen in a vacuum.

Those email lists, message boards, blogs, books and workshops that confused the hell out of me early on, festered in my mind. The more I wrote, the more bits and pieces of information would switch on little light bulbs in my head. Oh! So that’s what they were talking about. The more I shared my work with trusted, qualified individuals (not my best friend who is a straight shooter and a voracious romance reader, but my critique partner, editors and agents who took the time to give me feedback), the more the light bulbs flashed. When one editor wrote that she liked my voice, I spent weeks thinking, I have a voice? I have a voice. Finally!

What I’m trying to say is despite the confusion and second-guessing, I kept writing, even when I didn’t make sense, and I’ve made progress. While I’m still searching for that sale, every day wanting it more than the day before, the progress I’ve made gives me hope. Remind me of that when I hit another rough patch.

Elley

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