On Querying, Revision, and Writing

Ever since Beth Phelan’s #DVPit pitching event on Twitter in April, I’ve had a lot of interest for my Firebird retelling (remember that thing I started when I was 20 then took off my blog because I got writer’s block?), and have gotten so much great feedback from a few dozen agents on what worked and what didn’t with that novel.  I’ve gotten several full requests and a lot of partials, and based on collective responses am revising it to be an adult fantasy novel in hopes an agent will love it enough to take it on.

I faced a lot of rejection with my first novel (apparently romances where Samael is the character don’t fare very well) and the full request I got on it offered no feedback, which crushed me when I was but a baby novelist (Oh 21 year olds don’t open with a dream sequence and craptastic writing).  I just got another full request (after two years of heavy revising) for it from a publisher I love so we’ll see if that works out.  If not I’m happy to shelve it as something I wrote and was a good learning experience.  I’ll still finish the trilogy though for friends because I’ve been writing the same damn story since I was 12.

I feel the same way about Firebird.  I’m hoping beyond hope my revisions work out but if they don’t, that will be okay.  I still have my MG Darn Precious Messiah story and my Bowie space rock opera, which I think are my best works yet.  DPM is very dear to my heart – the oldest work I’ve continuously worked on, as I started it at 18 on a whim because I wanted to write a story about Raphael – and I’m 1/4th of the way done with a goal of 40,000 words.  Growing up, I loved Zora Neale Hurston’s stories about the South (her short stories, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Of Mules and Men) and resonated with Marie Laveau’s epic life and the way she balanced leading New Orlean’s Voodoo community and being a political leader.  Both were strong women that wouldn’t take no for an answer and I’m trying to capture that in May’s character.  I’m planning to go to New Orleans in January to research my novel some more and have been doing a lot of reading on the lwa.

As for Space Oddity, I’m planning on finishing that after DPM.  I’ll post more of it on my blog soon just because I think it is one of my strongest works and I think my readers would enjoy it.  Who doesn’t like Bowie cover bands in space?  I really love Laura and don’t really know where she came from, and I’m still not quite sure what a crust punk is.  Did I mention I use Wikipedia for all my novels?

Anyways, so if Firebird doesn’t take flight (sorry for the pun), all is not lost.  I have to keep telling myself that.  As someone with severe manic depression, severe anxiety, and intrusive thoughts caused by OCD, querying and rejections can be a nightmare.  I’m the kind of girl who cries at cat food commercials so when I got my first full rejection two years ago I was devastated!  But I wouldn’t want an agent who doesn’t love my characters and stories just as much as I do.

Publishing takes work.  I’ve been writing stories since the first grade.  I was a shit writer at 18.  I was a shit writer at 21.  I’m less of a shit writer at 23 (I hope!) and I’m sure by the time I’m thirty and ancient I’ll be less shitty.  At least I won’t open my manuscripts with dream sequences.  Throughout my life, the constant star on my horizon has been the dreams of being an author.  I would stay up past midnight scribbling in my notebooks, ink on my fingers and face, write my novels in Calculus and draw demons with six packs on my homework.  Somehow I still aced the AP exam even though I didn’t do my homework, was constantly revising, and sat at the back with my best bud the drug dealer?

If I’ve learned anything, writing takes persistence.  Writing takes perseverance.  Writing takes patience.  Everyone has the potential to be a great writer if that is their dream.  They just have to try.   I’m still finding my voice and finding my way, but I know someday, I’ll get there!

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4 thoughts on “On Querying, Revision, and Writing

  1. Last year I hired a personal coach– an author published 16 times. It cost me as much as a college course but I learned so very much from her. I recommend it to really push your writing forward.

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