I think every writer has to make this blog post or be cast into the bleak abyss from whence we came, so here's mine.
Around this time last year, I was fresh out of my very first proper writer's conference (PNWA, an eye-opening experience I highly recommend) and about to enter Pitch Wars on a total whim. I wouldn't start querying my first novel until mid-September, and even then I would make brief forays into the query trenches like a lost mole peeping out of a literal foxhole.
The first few rejections were hard. And yet, for every few form responses to my atrocious first attempt at a query letter, I'd get a nibble for pages—and for every form rejection after that, I'd get a few lines of serious feedback about what my narrative lacked. It took me three months of this before I enlisted a real, live editor and pushed through my second massive rewrite in 6 months. (The first one came after I got a request for more pages from a Pitch Wars mentor and realized exactly how much my manuscript sucked.)
And something about that second rewrite... I still get the crippling doubt and self-loathing about my words, as well as the high days where I read my own writing and think, "Yeah, okay, yeah." But the rejections don't hurt me anymore. (Much. I still use them as an excuse to buy French pastries and/or alcohol.)
I've put so much work into this book that I think I've finally crossed a certain bridge. My book is far from perfect, and I'm ready for the next major revision I inevitably need to do—but when someone doesn't click with the story? I mean... I'm cool with it. That's on them. I finally feel that thing everybody says: Agents want books they genuinely love, and you don't want an agent who doesn't genuinely love your book. So I'm happy to wait.
And that brings us to August 2017. I'm sitting at 20 official rejections and a handful of no-responses, shocked at how small that number looks compared to how much stress and strain this process has put me through.
I think my goal for this time next summer is to break 100.
Not sure how I feel about this header font, but on the other hand, it's already there...
On to NaNo. I've done the November version of this fun, tortuous game five times before. When I was seventeen, I wrote a meandering, confusing book about a girl whose sister attempts suicide, winds up in a coma, and begins to haunt her in an ever-more-foreboding manner. She also develops a crush on her sister's older, also grieving girlfriend, and befriends a genderqueer person with possible ties to the other side.
That honestly sums up how most of my work seems to go. Lost, sad people dealing with strange, upsetting things by a.) investigating against their better judgment and b.) finding connection where it seemed impossible.
This year, for the first time, I'm writing historical fiction! And it's slightly happier than it could be! Very exciting. My WIP is called (for now) The Hollow and the Crag. Set in 1932 West Virginia, it follows Pack Horse Librarian Lissy Sharpe as she winds her way through the Appalachian Mountains to share books, folktales, and suspicions of murder with the backwoods hollers in the hills.
I got off to a rather ambitious start, because this was one of those stories that just immediately clicked. I started writing and I felt it, the hum, the rich energy of words ready to fly forth. All of which to say, here we are on July 21 and I'm sitting at 43,000 words with a goal of 75,000 by the 31st. I've got a beat sheet with broad counts, which is the extent of the plotting I am capable of on a first draft, and I've got chemistry, and I've got some very vivid memories of these mountains. But more importantly, for the first time since Scrapetown I feel the true potential of a story—and thanks to Camp NaNo, I'm rolling with it through the harder bits.