in which the author begins again
I have written two novels to completion. Drafted, edited, shared with beta readers, and queried. Neither of them got further than a single full manuscript request, several months of trying not to get my hopes up, and then a devastating rejection. That is the way of trying to break into publishing – extreme emotions and a horrible need for external approval while trying to convince myself that “I write for me, not for other people!” This is not true. Or, not the entire truth. I write for me because I am One Of Those middle class white girls who grew up on Jo March and Anne of Green Gables and Harriet the Spy and other plucky writer heroines. I have the cute origin story all ready to go: when I was three years old, I announced to my mom that I would be a writer when I grew up.
However, actually writing for publishment requires a great deal more than a cute origin story, and the slush piles of agents and publishers are rising to towering heights. I have taken a few years off writing novels because it’s devastating. I believe in my work; it is good. I write good stories. I know how to structure a novel, how to create engaging characters, how to draw a reader into a world. I can write a plot that keeps the pages turning. So can a lot of other people, and the trend-reading part of authorship is a critical piece of breaking into mainstream publishing these days.
So I have something new. I am switching my focus from YA to MG; shorter word count, fewer characters with significant page time, less peril, and higher demands on my ability to craft a tight story. Kids are ruthless, as everyone knows. I am writing a space story with 11 year old main characters who get themselves into a pickle that could have serious consequences for their floating village. I have high hopes for it, as usual; space is cool and fun, and there’s less MG/early teen science fiction out there than some other things. I’m writing it for me and also for my kids, who are quite keen and don’t understand why I can’t just get my writing published already. I’m also writing it because I think it has potential for commercial success. This might actually be the one that I attempt to self-publish if the querying process goes like it did the last two times.
In order to have a hope of getting anywhere with this novel, however, I need an audience who is keen. So I am going to document the process here. I may not yet be published, but I have knowledge of how to write. Lots of people try to write novels; lots of people write craft books and Twitter threads and blog posts about how they do it; I am adding to the noise. I know this. But I’m also doing it for me, because I want a record of the process that I can share. And since the two key components of writing are practice and gathering, I can use this space for both.
Stay tuned. The El-Tusi is getting ready to launch.