Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are you willing to Write until you get it Right?

I wrote three posts, deleted them and this is now my fourth. I promised this blog would be a place where want-to-be writers could see what someone goes through to obtain their dream. You saw me send one of my books out for an edit. I then put myself through a grueling rewrite process.

I finally decided to test the waters, which in writer’s terms means: Query an Agent.

Within three days, I heard back.

The kind agent told me they didn’t need any more Florida-based stories or those dealing with past issues. If I had an out-of-the-box story, they would consider it.

I know, it wasn’t a form rejection letter. I was happy about that.

But the concern that rang loudest in my head was this: it was a rejection of the story I’d just paid to be edited with money lent to me from my mother.

And whose idea had it been anyways? I know. *She swallows hard.*

Of course there are other agents to send it out to, not a ton of them, but a few. I’m leery of querying just anyone. I did my research on who I thought I could work best with.

Then there is the little problem that I’m not sure my other book is out-of-the box enough.

When my husband got home, I cried that the story I’d edited had once been a Pennsylvania-based one and why had I ever changed it? Where was the humor in all of this? Did God really think I enjoyed doing all this work for nothing?

That’s when I got back to square one.

I’m a writer because it’s what I love to do. I write hoping my words might someday change someone’s life.

Is there a time limit?

No.

Do I want one?

Yes. No. *SIGH*

So this is the place in my post where I ask you a question. Trust me; I have a ton of them. But what I want to know today is this: are you willing to write until you get it right?

46 comments:

Gaia said...

Wish I could get it right the first time tough!! My disorganised thoughts and putting them with flow and clever vocab. Trouble with me, if I spend too much time rewriting, I might lose inspiration! Guess that's not what it takes to be a writer.. lack of patience is not a good trait.

Diane said...

I loved your honesty in the the one line.... Yes. No. Sigh......

Pretty much sums it up for me! :O)

Carolyn said...

Today, since I'm a beginner on this journey, of course I would say yes. But after I've had some of my words deleted or after I've had a character killed off or after I've received a rejection slip...I don't know what I'll say. If my husband tells me a sentence is wrong, sometimes I fall apart - what if... I know I have a story to tell and I think it is a good one. I will keep going until it is right and ready. That's today...who knows about tomorrow! Thanks again for baring your writing soul!

Lynda Young said...

lately I've been needing to ask myself this question on a daily basis because I'm in a rough patch at the moment. When it comes to the crunch, though, the answer is yes.

Janet Johnson said...

So easy to say a quick 'yes!', but it really takes something to live up to that. I've been editing and editing, and people keep encouraging me to query, but I want to get it right. Somehow, I know it's not quite there. And I've been debating the professional editor, too. I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

Journaling Woman said...

Yes and so are you. God doesn't promise us a life without struggle. He promises to never leave you wherever writing takes you.

I KNOW you learned many things from the editing that will help you in future writing as well as the current project. It will not be a loss.

T

Linda O'Connell said...

I just give up and leave it alone for a while, and then return. That's what works for me. Also, I don't necessarily believe what editors say. Once I had four lit mag editors who wrote comments on my rejected piece, and they were arguing amongst themselves over my work. So in most cases, I regard a rejection as merely an opinion. Good luck; don't give up.

Sally said...

Now is the time to get your manuscript out there. Put it into a contest. There are several small publishers running contests to find authors. Look at submitting to the smaller houses. Put it out to agents. You've survived the first rejection get a stream of responses coming in, there is someone out there ready for your story you just have to get it in front of them.

While this one is percolating work on the other story, it may or may not be out of the box but write what you want. Put one foot in front of the other, put one word and then another. Count it all joy, sister, this is what we writers do. Godspeed.

Lin Floyd said...

or start a new project and let the old one lie till I'm ready to look at it again. I just returned from a writers conference and met with an agent who said she already had a book just like my nature notes for kids that she was representing. Then I met with a publishing person and ran a new idea by him and he liked it and said send in your finished manuscript-well I haven't written it yet so I'm ready for a new project.

Amy DeTrempe said...

I don't think anyone gets it right the first time. And remember, this is just one editor and their opinion. There are more editors out there than you realize. Yes, I am willing to write until I get it write. I can't tell you how many times each of my WIPs have been edited and revised because I lost count. Have faith in your writing, your story and yourself.

Jan Cline said...

A reluctant yes, considering Ive not had a lot of re-writing experience. However, I have just contemplated re-writing my current WIP due to the fact that I came to realize I have killed off most of the secondary characters! Well, not most, but enough to make me think it's too many deaths. So I am reluctantly going to resurrect someone which will mean some serious writing till it's right.
You are my hero for always doing whatever you have to do...thanks!

Nicole MacDonald said...

Yes I will write till it's right. How can you not? It's part of your heart and you really can't lie to yourself.

Just do it! Feel the joy in making it right :) Focus on that and not the challenge of the writing. It's like running up a hill. focus on the top and knowing how AWESOME it'll feel when you're there. And just do it.

http://damselinadirtydress.blogspot.com

Jolene Perry said...

Yep.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Yes Terri..I am currently doing that, writing until I get it right.
You will find an agent soon, who will just fall in love with your story. You have your mother's blessings and our prayers and good wishes.

Sarah Dooley said...

I'm revising on deadline for the first time and it's making me feel like this story will never be right, the plot will never make sense, the characters will never be three-dimensional, the book will flop, and my career will be over.

None of that is true. It's just how my brain occupies itself when it's trying not to focus on revising.

Shaking off the frustration. Getting back to work. We'll get there.

Nehha N Josshi said...

I know, it is such a sinking feeling...Nobody promised, that I'd have takers right away! I don't know what is right, in the right sense of the word that they perceive. It is always a journey towards something, how can it stop until it is right:)

Susan Roux said...

Fo me it isn't writing, but painting. Am I willing to paint until I get it right?

Its a given, I'll never get it right. I don't know of an artist who felt they did. It will always be a struggle. That said, I do plan to continue painting to improve. I'm curious to see how far I can push myself, my art and what I can achieve. It has nothing to do with sales or impressing anyone. It is my own private desire to know how mush talent I was given and how far I can take it. I feel in competition with myself.

Critiques are good and can help you improve and find your path. You can't let a bad critique discourage you. Its the love you have for your craft that must drive you. Listen to your editors advice, but put it on the back burner and go write from your heart. When you proof your own work, that's when the advice should come into place. I think you have what it takes to succeed. Go for it!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I'll continue to write even if no one ever reads a word of it! It's what I have to do for me. If I'm blessed enough to have someone else read it and it should get published, that would be wonderful too.

sketchesofacommonlife.com said...

When I was going to school (at age 55), I rewrote papers and rewrote and rewrote them until they felt right and I was happy. They consumed me. The end result then was that I was going for the grade. Now... I would have to say I don't have that tenacity. One looks at things differently at 63, I guess. I weigh the cost of my time...which is why my WIP now sits on a shelf. I'll pull it out again, I'm sure. But I've opted not to write for someone else. I WILL finish this story...for ME. You, however, DO have that tenacity. You're younger. You have a goal...a dream. And I think therein lies the different...the motivating force. While I want to see my story written, I've lost any dream about it that I once had. You have a dream, and it will pull you along until you achieve it. You have the courage to follow it through to the end! You are achieving the purpose of this blog...you are showing what it takes to bring a book from a vision to a reality. I admire you. I haven't had that courage! Blessings to you, Hon!!!

Jill Kemerer said...

I'm with you, Terri. The logical part of me says I have all the time in the world, but the passionate part of me wants it RIGHT NOW!

Rhonda Schrock said...

Such a struggle. This is why writing is not for the faint of heart. Praying courage and direction for you!

Lynn said...

I'm inspired by the comments here, Terri! What I write, I know, may not be right for all. I like creativity because there is no final answer. Look at humanity. God made us all different. The combination to be different is infinite. You already have it right. Your doing what you value, love, and what God leads you to do. May He continue to give you the tenacity to continue His works through you.

Margo Berendsen said...

Yes I am willing to keep writing until I get it right! A few years ago i used to say, if editors don't like my book, that's okay, I LOVE IT so I won't change a thing. Thank goodness I eventually discovered room for improvement. LOTS OF IMPROVEMENT. Thank the Lord I didn't let pride keep ruling me.

Sounds like in your case, you've got it right - you just didn't match the agent's needs. I'd keep trying different agents, even ones that don't look like a good match, because agents often admit they sometimes hesitate to list exactly what they are looking for because they don't want to potentially cut off a great opportunity.

The other thing that's given me hope, is if my book fails to sell, I will just keep writing and sending new stuff out, because when I do sell something, there's a very good chance publishers will be willing to look at my other books, too, the ones that didn't sell at first. Who knows but in a couple more years Florida books will be a hot item again? And dealing with past issues will never wear out because we ALL have to deal with past issues.

There is NEVER a time limit on a good story or a message that needs to be heard.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm sorry about the R, but like you said, it's not about your ability as a writer.
I'm usually willing to tredge on and try to get it right until all walls have been hit.

Joanne Sher said...

I'd like to think I do. It's my plan, so to speak - but I must say that "walking through" this with you is VERY helpful to me. Praying for ya, hun!

LisaShaw said...

Great question! I will write as long as the LORD gives my heart something to say. I appreciate your message beautiful friend!

Julie Musil said...

I'm sorry to hear about the rejection. They sting, no matter what.

Here's my opinion: they liked your writing enough to be willing to see something else. To me, that means it's good! Even if this one place isn't the right place, it's still good enough to query others. Know what I mean?

I think we all must be a little crazy to invite such torture, but the answer to your question is yes, I'd be willing to write until I get it right.

You're a writer, it's what you do! Terri, send out that next query! (I rhymed, and didn't mean to)

Susan R. Mills said...

Sorry about the rejection. And yes, I'm willing to write until I get it right. That's why I've spent 10 months revising the same novel. :)

Deborah said...

Have you considered that what is 'wrong' to one person may be 'right' to another...or many others? Try someone else!

Karen Lange said...

I am. But there are many days when I know that this decision is just not easy. I don't feel like it, I don't want to, nothing comes out right...Then I go back to my bottom line - I AM a writer. I will see it through, whether it's a book or article or blog post. There just might be some bumps along the way. :)

Sorry to hear about the agent. There is someone out there who will be a good fit, though. And you will have all the wisdom you need as things go along.

Blessings,
Karen

Tamika: said...

I really am ready to ride the waves of waiting in this business. I truly believe that God will make room for my gift~ and yours.

Thank you for being so transparent, it is a blessing to all of us.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, Terri. I wish I knew the answer to this question. I'd like to say YES! But "right" is not the same for all markets. I've had pros tell me I have a unique style that they've rarely seen, and I should have no problem getting published; then I get rejections from editors who've purchased previous stories of mine. So, I think sometimes it boils down to timing. And the only way to get that right is to pray that God put you in the right place at the right time.

You are not alone. Don't give up on yourself or your story. Can you ask your editor whom she would recommend sending it to, since she's familiar with it?

Hugs,
Jen

Emily said...

As someone who just got an agent on September 10th, (nine months or so after paying for an edit of some of my book and going through even more edits after that and now going through more edits with my agent), I will say a resounding, "YES!" It is completely worth it to edit until you get it right. If there's anything I can do to help you, let me know. :) By the way, I love the banner you have in the corner of your blog - As for me and my blog, we will serve the Lord!

God Bless!

WritingNut said...

Oye... I ask myself this very question quite often. And each time I start to wonder just exactly why I continue to put myself through this, I think "but I can't imagine myself being happy doing anything else." I still haven't FINIshed my MS yet because I keep revising and revising. I wish we could get it right the first time, but this journey may be just what makes it all worthwhile :)

Hang in there... I know it will get better.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I hear you, Terri. The Moses Conspiracy has been written, edited, and re-written so many times I've lost track.

It's with an agent now, and I pray God will give it favor.

Blessings,
Susan

K9friend said...

Unless you're writing purely for your own personal pleasure, there's nothing else to be done but keep plugging away until you get it right!

Pat
www.critteralley.blogspot.com

paulgreci said...

Yes, Yes, and Yes. I love writing. I have no plans to stop no matter how near or far publication is. I have no control over that process. The only thing I can do is write, and push myself forward as a writer. Keep on going if it's what you love :-)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I've been thinking about this a lot...

yes...

until it's right...

Tabitha Bird said...

YES YES YES YES. I will write until I get it right. I am in my fifth re-write. No, not edit, I am mean complete re-write. Keep persisting. What is not right for one agent might be perfect for another :)

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Terri, you are a brave and persistent lady. I know that "YES" echoes in your mind. Remember the famous Thomas Alva Edison's quote: "success is 10 inspiration and 90 perspiration"

(((( hugs )))))

Doris

Jackee said...

*hugs*

I've been at square one and I know it's so hard! Sorry.

If the agent said she wanted to see something else, that means your writing, the query, and your editing is solid, though. So the answer is the same as always: keep writing! Just keep writing the next and the next. As far as YOU'RE willing to go to get it right.

Besides, that's only one agent's subjective opinion of what she can sell. I'm sure there is an agent out there not opposed to a Florida-based or a past-memory book. Keep trying. Keep writing.

I've no doubt you'll get there, Terri. :)

kathy taylor said...

I'm willing but I'm not convinced I'll get there. They don't need more Florida stories? Hmmm. That's what I'm revising. Maybe no need in contacting that agent.

There's so much discouragement out there. Let's continue to lift one another up.

careann said...

The story I've just finished polishing has been revised several times, then totally rewritten and revised some more. I felt the nucleus of the story was right but the telling of it didn't quite work. You don't want to know how many years I've been tinkering with this one and when I finally find a home for it I have no doubt that an editor will request more changes. I think the secret is passion. If there is continuing passion I'll work on something indefinitely. Without it, I'll know it's time to shelve it. I love writing but am realistic enough to know that not everything I produce is good enough to be published. It doesn't deter me because it's easier to find joy in the journey than to focus on the destination. (But I admit the small inner voice whispers, "One day I hope to make it," and I think I will.)

Blessings to you in your journey, Trust in God's leading and his impeccable timing and keep writing. :)

Carol Garvin

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Great question; here's my answer in brief, and this is for me only...

If getting it "right" means landing a book contract / agent, then "no." If getting it "right" means being content with my pen and its mission therein then "yes"... I'll always try and hone my gift with the goal of wanting it to be an encouragement to others.

I don't want to be "half" where my writing is concerned; I want to do my best. I think there's a delicate balance in assessing the worthiness of our pens. I know you get this, and as I've said before, I applaud your willingness to be so invested in your writing. Never be ashamed or make defense of that. Keep doing what you feel is best.

But for me, I just don't have it in me to keep pushing the envelope. Which is why I'll probably never have a traditional publisher and book contract. It takes a passion like yours to land one!

Keep to it.

peace~elaine

Sandra Heska King said...

Yes. I think so. Maybe.

But wait. It's not that it's not right, is it? It's just not right for that agent, right?

Deb Shucka said...

Yes. And I'm inspired by your willingness and vulnerability as well. A closed door just means you haven't yet found the one that will open - it doesn't mean anything else.