Friday, June 24, 2011

Writing is A Learning Game

In January, I finished writing The Road to Nowhere. In February, I started sending queries to agents. I received the usual "no thank you" from most of them but I continued sending to more agents. I queried one agent who replied about a week later. She asked to see the first 50 pages of the book. I was ecstatic! It was the first time an agent asked to see more. 

I hadn't been idle during those weeks of querying. I worked with a critique group who encouraged me to make major changes in my work. Believing they know more about writing and publishing than I do (which they do by the way), I started hacking at my book. With every change, I felt as if I wasn't staying true to my characters. It changed who they are. I continued editing and changing, believing I just needed to keep at it. When the agent asked to see those 50 pages, I sent her the revised version. Although I was confident in my writing ability (at least as confident as any writer can be), I was not comfortable with the direction the revision took the story. But I prayed God would bless and tried not to stress about it.

After two and a half months of not hearing from her, I took the advice of several others in the business and sent a short email. To my great please, she replied in a few days. Here is her email:

Thank you so much for allowing me to consider THE ROAD TO NOWHERE. There’s no question to me that you have a talent for writing vivid action and strong dialogue, and these both kept the plot moving forward. For me, however, the change in point of view from Aileen to Curtis Ralston for the first few chapters didn’t intrigue me as much as your first version — I wasn’t as invested in Curtis as I had been in Aileen — and the new direction described in the plot synopsis didn’t hook me the way I hoped it would. Although I regret to say that this particular project isn’t a match for me, I’d welcome the opportunities to review future queries that you may have, as I’m always looking for writers like you who are serious about the business.

All the best luck as you continue your search for enthusiastic representation on this project!
I cried tears of frustration. I've spent months rewriting and editing only to discover an agent who liked the original version better. The truth is, so do I! I waited a few hours to get my thoughts together and decided to chance a reply email. I shared my revision journey with her, asking if she would consider reading my original version. I prayed. I waited. I prayed some more. 

The next more I received a VERY encouraging email. She understood and would like to see the original. But she went a step further. She is willing to wait to see it to give me the time to get it back to its original storyline. In other words, she believes in me as a writer. I cried again, this time for joy. An agent believes in me. She likes my work and believes I am worth the wait.

I have learned a valuable lesson. I need to learn and grow and stretch my ability as a writer. But I need to trust myself and my instincts. I can't change my work to please everyone because I end up pleasing no one. God has given me a story. He's given me an ability. I want to honor Him with my writing. In order to do that, I need to trust that what He's given me is enough. A lesson we could apply to every area of our lives.

What lesson has God taught you recently? How has He shown you that you need to trust Him and the instincts He's given you?

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