Well, I certainly didn’t mean to leave the blog dormant for so long, but I swear I have a good excuse.
I have signed up for the Writers’ League of Texas 2012 Agents Conference on June 22-24. I’m super excited for the seminars at the conference, particularly for the optional YA track that I added on. Friends who have attended previous Agents Conferences have how much they learned. Two have called it life-changing. I’m also looking forward to networking with other writers from the state and region, not to mention the instructors, editors, and agents that are also attending.
But I’m most excited about my 10-minute pitch to an agent.
Like, face-to-face. Me telling the agent about my book.
It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. I’m booked with an agent who seems super nice and is very successful, and whose blog and twitter have been both entertaining and inspirational. So I could not be more thrilled to have an opportunity to present to her.
This means that I’ve been revising like crazy. I can’t pitch an incomplete book (and no matter that this book has a coherent beginning, middle, and end… until it’s a final draft, it’s not finished) without feeling like a fraud. And if she likes my pitch and requests pages or a full, I can’t send her something that doesn’t represent my best work. That’s a surefire way to the “no thanks” pile.
It’s been a rough couple of months. I’ve spent a lot of time in front of the laptopMy friends Rozie and Kristen and I have formed a small writing group and have been meeting regularly to work on our books, which has helped beyond measure.
(quick aside: their novels are still in outline form but are meticulously researched and they are already so exciting, I can barely stand it!)
Last month, I took a three-week class meant to help develop a novel’s concept and help it stand out in the slush pile. Though our actual work was not read or discussed, we shared elevator pitches and outlines. I’ll admit that mine drew some pretty strong criticism from the instructor and classmates. It stung. But after talking it through with my writing group and ruminating on the feedback, I realized that the instructor and class had some valid points.
So I tossed the first three chapters of my book.
This was a hard step, y’all. I had already revised them, but many of my original words were there. The first words I wrote as an aspiring author. Acknowledging that they weren’t my best work was rough. It hurt to move these scenes to the discard pile.
But what I’ve written in their stead is so. much. better.
And I’ve cut a lot more. I’ve changed from past tense to present tense, re-imagined characters, and rearranged the timeline. The current draft is, in many ways, unrecognizable from the first draft from 2008. It’s gone from being a light, fluffy romance to something more of a coming-of-age story, complete with conflict and tension and choices. My characters make mistakes and get hurt. The writing is tighter and more vibrant.
You guys, my discard folder has 24,000 orphaned words.
The first draft had only 50,000 words. I’ve cut nearly half a book.
Right now I’m sitting at about 63,000 words and will probably land somewhere around 65,000 with the final draft. That’s a-ok with me. There is still more work to do, and time is beginning to run short. But I’m determined, and I have a good support system in place both locally and online to keep me from jumping off a cliff when things get frustrating. By the time my agent pitch appointment rolls around on June 23, I’ll have a finished product, a summary, a query, and a pitch. I’ll be able to talk coherently about my work. I will get out of the pitch without a nervous breakdown. I’ve got this, right? Right.
And I ordered business cards. They say I’m a writer. Time to fulfill that dream.