Thursday, September 26, 2019

Improving Craft--and Acumen

I started what would become my first full-length novel during NaNoWriMo in 2007, almost twelve years ago.  At the time, I had a preschooler and an infant.  I'd just stopped working (in health sciences publishing) to stay home with the girls.

I still love the idea of that book, Seek Ye First.  It's a scavenger-hunt mystery set partially around St. Louis and partially in an online gaming world called Poirot.  But the writing wasn't great.  I had a literature degree!  I read a lot.  At the time, I kept a daily blog.  I should have been able to write, right?  But no.  What all that knowledge and experience enabled me to do was to recognize (eventually) that my writing wasn't great.

My POV was too distant, my verbs too weak, my stakes too low. (I created these awesome characters and didn't want to hurt them.)  Tell, not show--I had a great fondness for summarizing scenes.

To be honest, I haven't perfected my writing.  But, it's significantly better in 2019 than it was in 2007.  In the intervening years, I've written four additional novels that will live in the box under my desk until our leaky roof destroys them.

I've also written two novels that I am proud of.  Finally!  And I'm very excited by the novel I'm writing now.  And the one I'm outlining to write next.

In addition to reading and writing books, over the past twelve years, I've taken writing classes (online and on campus).  I've participated in several critique groups.  I've read a lot of industry blogs.  I joined local/national writers' groups.  I've found beta readers and entered contests.  In short, I went from being an aspiring writer to treating my writing as a profession.

Maybe I waited longer than I needed to start sending my work to agents.  I thought I was ready twelve years ago.  I wasn't.  I'm ready now.