It’s almost 5 years and The Loyalist’s Wife is not on the shelves yet.
Most people don’t ask anymore. Only a few really know how hard I am working to hone my manuscript and make it perfect. This post is to inform the others and, more importantly, to give hope to writers on my same journey.
What have I been doing all this time? Here are 5 categories of book-related activities that have kept me learning and leaping ahead.
- Learning the craft of writing. I’ve been taking writing workshops and courses to learn craft and then going back to my manuscript numerous times to apply my knowledge. I’ve killed my darlings so often I could be indicted. And I’ve been finding the hook, excising adverbs, birthing compelling characters, and cutting all that doesn’t directly serve my plot.
- Searching for the perfect writing group. Through writing groups, I’ve found other writers to share my struggle and help along the way. First I looked for one in my city, but had to start my own. I floundered with it for a year before shutting it down and going to another 15 miles away. Unfortunately no one there was yet published and I desperately needed that stimulus. I sourced out the writing society in a major city near me, and finally plunged into an excellent critique group attached to the London Writers Society.
- Reading a lot of how-to writing books. Seeing what successful writers do has been invaluable. When in doubt learn from Stephen King or Anne Lamott or dozens of other excellent writers. My very first how-to book was How to Write and Sell Your First Novel by Oscar Collier.
- Establishing an on-line social media presence. I happened upon a Vancouver conference for writers which highlighted social media and I’ve never looked back. Now I do video interviews, tweet, blog twice a week, comment on others’ blogs, and establish online connections with like-minded writing people.
- Making useful connections in the writing world. Through conferences I’ve met Barbara Kyle, whose course I took, Michael Neff, who runs the Algonkian pitch conferences, and Terry Fallis, whose debut book, The Best Laid Plans, was the first self-published book to win the prestigious Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour here in Canada. Each of these writers has contributed to my own writing journey.
If you do the math, that’s about a year for each of the above, not to mention the year I spent researching and writing the first draft of my ms. Five years.
Of course I didn’t ever work all day, every day at my writing until this last year. Sometimes I even took a few months off for things such as downsizing a lifetime of things saved for that rainy day, and moving to a smaller place.
But now, having learned so much, I just want to apply it and get that book on the shelves. Oh, and I’ve got the second and third in the series knocking around in my head, too. They will be much quicker off the mark.
How long did your first book take? What did you do to make it the best it could be? Would you do anything differently now? Are you still awaiting that day when your book hits the shelves? Consider leaving a comment on this broad subject.