22 March, 2010

Day Zero

Earlier today I was sitting in the dentist's chair. On his ceiling was a pseudo newspaper with witty items and games, presumably to keep you amused while you're waiting for the real show to start. After I figured out the mathematical quiz (about 3rd grade level), one item caught my eye, a quote by Will Rogers:
"Even if you're on the right track, 
you'll get run over if you just sit there."
That made me think about my writing career. My stalled writing career. Some two years ago, having sold my software consulting company, I decided to fulfill my dream of writing a book -- a mystery. Had I known at the time the amount of sweat and tears (no blood so far) it would take, I probably would have taken up painting instead.
I didn't just decide to become a writer one day -- I'd worked as a reporter for several years before going back to school for an MBA -- but I was blissfully ignorant of what it took to write a book.  So, I started writing. And I plugged away faithfully, hour after hour, day after day, until the manuscript was finished. It took me a whole week and ran just under 10,000 words. Ooops…
I really did want to write a book, not a short story, so I went back and added a little here, a little there. I joined a critique group, went to some seminars, read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, etc.
After about 15 months, I started sending out queries. And receiving rejections -- lots of rejections. Not being totally stupid, I made revisions, and more revisions, until I thought I'd corrected all my "newbie" writer mistakes. And finally, I bit the bullet and forked over an obscene amount of money to an editor for a "critical read." Her feedback would have sent a weaker person straight to a "do you want fries with that?" job.
I treated myself to a couple of days of self-pity, enormous amounts of chocolate (and a couple of bottles of wine) before deciding that hers was only one woman's opinion. Everyone else, including my brutally honest friends, liked the book. So maybe -- make that definitely -- it needs some polishing, but it's not fodder for the composter.
So I've decided to start over. From page one. On a new mystery. I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track, but I'm just sitting there with mystery #1. I'm not giving up on the first one, but I think I need to keep moving. So here I am, starting a diary blog, of how I'm going to write my second mystery and get this one published!

1 comment:

  1. As my mother used to say, "Great minds run in the same channels." I'm working on my first mystery and recently began a blog to chronicle my writing life. I had a "do you want fries with that" moment when I entered the same manuscript in the same contest two consecutive years. If you'd like to read about it, the title is "67 Points," on my blog. Best wishes for this endeavor. I look forward to reading about it.