I’m in the final push for finishing my manuscript. I still have a lot to write but I’m committed to finishing on schedule.
Tonight, I sent out my request to my beta-readers. I am fortunate to have friends who are willing and up to the task. I have a good assortment, too. Men and women. Young and young-at-heart. And readers all.
Sending out that message made everything seem so real. This story has haunted my head for such a long time. And I had so much growing to do in order to be ready to write it, to have the courage to send it out into the world.
It’s an exciting time for me as a writer. Things are happening. I made it to the finals of a highly competitive short story competition and am waiting to hear on that. It was my first time participating and the validation of that process and the feedback I received really lit a fire under me.
I have a lot of firsts on the horizon. My first manuscript. My first query. My first agent. My first publisher. My first book. It’s a complicated process and I’m learning as I go. But this will be the only time I experience it this way. And I will remember it for the rest of my life.
I know that I, like many other writers, have read the entire internet looking for information about this process, how it happens, what it’s like, what you go through, how it feels to go on this journey. I seem to find a bit about it over here from this author, and another bit over there from that author. Agents say one thing. Other agents completely contradict the first batch of agents. Some say traditional publishing is dead and others say “Please, please give me a manuscript I can believe in!” Experiences seem to be all over the spectrum and as individual as the people going through them.
What I’m going to try here — and what I haven’t seen a lot of — is all that information, step-by-step, in one place. Granted, it will still be my experience and yours may vary. But I would really like to show other writers the nitty-gritty of what this looks like.
The stress of finishing a manuscript. The word counts. The writer’s block. The Scrivener project targets ticking down and the project count ticking up. The frustration with balancing a job and life with a dream in the making.
The way it feels to write that last sentence. The difficult process of editing. Getting your draft into the hands of beta-readers. The anticipation and stress while waiting for them to tell you whether or not it sucks.
The process of researching agents to query. The Herculean task of writing a query letter. Fixing all the stuff your beta-readers found wrong. Filling in your plotholes, hopefully without a backhoe.
Then, sending out the queries. Prayers, sacrifices, offerings left at crossroads. The joy (hopefully) of finding an agent that is the perfect match, maybe even one of the ones you thought of as your “dream agent”. Waiting with bated breath to see if they can find a home for your book with a publisher. And oh my god, what if they do?!
Contracts. Edits. Cover design. Publicity. Learning as you go. Building your relationship with your agent. Getting to work on the next book while trying not to explode with excitement over this one.
See? Lots of firsts. And I hope to experience them all. And the best thing I can think of to do is share that journey. To be brave as all fuck and let you see things as they really are, both when they’re spectacular and when they’re not.
Because that’s what I’ve been wanting as a writer. To be able to grab some popcorn, pull up my laptop, and watch some reality TV about the life I’m wanting to live.
The title of my post is a quote by Tolkien. And I think it suits nicely. Writing (any artform, really) is an act of courage. It’s dangerous taking your power in your hands and changing your life, because those changes are dangerous to all your previous habits, all your previous dreams, all your previous ideas about what you can and cannot do. But you cannot have an adventure until you step out your door and put your feet on the path you want to walk.
Writing is the path I want to walk. My adventure is just beginning.
Won’t you come along?