Welcome to week 49 of Anthony’s series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week’s post here.
- Planning the next steps to getting published.
Breaking it down
A pit stop on your journey
We’ve done a lot this year as we worked to writing a novel in a year. We should all be proud.
If you’ve been living with a cast of characters – in your head, on the page – for almost a year, it can be hard to leave them behind. If you’ve been sweating out a plot, trying to get the structure perfect, it can be hard to let go.
You’ve become attached to your story. It’s become a living thing, or at least taken on a life of its own. To let go, it seems, feel like abandonment or even betrayal.
At this point you’ve done as much as you can on your manuscript. It’s just about time to take off the water wings and let it swim on its own.
However, you’re probably not done with it forever — you can still prepare for the next steps in the journey.
If you’re lucky enough to get your book accepted …
Let’s look into the future for a moment. If you’re lucky enough to get accepted by an agent or publisher, you’ll soon be revisiting your manuscript. In fact, you may be shocked to realise how much work is still left to do on it.
Editors are not the enemy. Sometimes they may feel like enemies at first, but if you don’t resist the editorial process you’ll find it will make your writing that much better. We can all learn from editors if we’re willing to collaborate with them and take their advice.
Sometimes you may disagree with their ideas for changes. This is an opportunity to think critically about your story and defend your stance.
A few years ago, I submitted a short story for an anthology, which was accepted. The editor assigned to work with me before publication felt the ending was problematic.
Reading the story again, I agreed. Working together, throwing ideas back and forth, we eventually found an ending that suited the main character and his situation. Looking back, I’m still grateful for her help.
… and if you aren’t lucky that first time …
Rejection happens to us all as writers. Sometimes well-meaning friends or fellow writers will come up with some glib statements. Here are two of them and how I feel about them.
1. ‘It’s your book, not you, that they’re rejecting.’ Well, you wrote the book, didn’t you? How could you not it personally? It stings. It hurts. Allow yourself to feel that.
2. ‘JK Rowling was rejected nine or twelve times.’ The only problem is: you’re not JK Rowling and this is your book, and it’s happening to you right now. Being reminded of someone else’s success when you’re feeling low is probably not going to make you feel a lot better.
The truth is there may be a hundred reasons a publisher or agent turns you down. One of them may be they don’t have a place for you on their list or they’ve just signed a similar author. Another reason could that your story is, in fact, bad.
While you’re waiting to be published, this is a good time to work on your manuscript. To find ways to improve it, polish it – the more distance and time you put between you and the book, the more likely you’ll start noticing the flaws in it.
Timelock — 1 to 2 hours
5 Quick Hacks
Resist the temptation to re-read your book every day. Put some distance between you and the work.
Start a new novel, short story, or screenplay. It’s important to keep up the creative process.
Take time to celebrate the milestones in your journey. You’ve worked hard to achieve them.
Keep a diary or journal – it’s a good way to make sense of your emotions.
Give yourself a day and no more to feel bad after a rejection. Dwelling on it won’t help you or your book.
Pin it, quote it, believe it:
‘Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.’ — Michael Crichton
Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!
If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.
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