My Latest Writerly Activities
It’s been a while since I last posted for two reasons. The first is that I was preparing for and attending a writers’ conference, called Storymakers. As you may or may not know, I’m working to get published myself.
The brief version of my writers’ journey:
- wrote angsty teenage poetry in junior high and high school
- edited high school literary magazine because (I guess) there were a lot of teenagers writing angsty poetry in the mid-80’s
- got a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, then a master’s degree in Public Administration while working at a nearby nonprofit writing grants
- wrote one young-adult science fiction/fantasy book, called Forced
- joined a writers group and started attending writing conferences
- pitched and queried Forced to 50 agents over the course of two years. Got some interest from them, but ultimately, no one picked it up.
- wrote a second book, Running, a YA sci-fi
- attended fourth Storymakers conference, where the first chapter of Running didn’t win anything in the contest I’d entered it into
- felt horrible
- pitched Running to an agent who didn’t request any pages beyond the first 10 and synopsis she’d already seen
- decided that I should never write anything ever again
- heard the word “brilliance” somewhere in said agent pitch, and received some very helpful, constructive feedback
- started to feel hopeful, at least enough to decide to revise Running and pitch it to 60 agents
- received awesome feedback on my first 10 pages from author Annette Lyon, through Eschler Editing
- heard an amazing keynote speech by author Jennifer Nielsen, who said that the great thing about writing in Utah is that, as writers, we’re not all competing for a limited piece of the readers’ market “pie,” we’re working together to “grow the pie.”
- decided I’m not only going to finish and pitch Running, but that I’ll write the other three books that are lining themselves up in my head, after that.
Sorry…I thought that was going to be the short version. Really, it is, when you take into account the fact that this journey has taken place over the course of 30 years and during a whole bunch of real life. This year’s Storymakers conference, like the ones before it, breathed new life into my writing journey.
What I Did at Storymakers
Also, the agent with whom I met, Nicole Resciniti, was so helpful. Because of her and Annette Lyon, who edited the first chapter of Running for me, and Lisa Mangum, who edited my pitch, I’m excited to keep working on Running. Hopefully, it’ll be ready to query in a month or two!
The second reason I haven’t been able to post is that I read a book that I didn’t want to review here until its writer did more work on it to make it really shine. It’s not that I’m super picky about the quality of writing in the books I read, but I don’t like to review books negatively outright. If I really can’t connect with the characters or the plot, if there’s something fundamentally wrong with the writing, pacing, premise, or plot, I’ll reach out to the publisher or author, depending on who initiated contact with me for a book, and provide feedback in constructive ways. When I say “fundamentally wrong,” I don’t compare those things against my imperfect writing or knowledge; I compare it to the standards provided in the many writing classes I’ve taken and books I’ve read, and even then, realize that it’s still, ultimately, just my opinion. And when I say “constructive ways,” I mean that I point out the positive things, and when I point out the negative, I do it in such a way that I provide specific suggestions for improvement (e.g., “This paragraph would have been much more dynamic if the author had shown a character stomping his feet or ramming his fingers through his hair, instead of saying that the character was angry.”) Hopefully, I’ll get to review the improved version of that book for you all down the road!
I’m reading Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, which I’m very much enjoying, and hope to have a review of that up soon! Stay tuned!