Just returned from taveling again, this time to the city of Indianapolis to see the Indy 500. What a great race! Lots of record were set, and yes – it was HOT! This was a fabulous vacation, made possible by our son Daniel who is a devoted fan of Indy car racing and is well-enough employed that he can afford to fly to nearly every race through the season. He very generously took his old parents and one of his sisters to see the ‘Brickyard’. The four of us loved every minute of our time there. My man, Takuma Sato very nearly won, the finish was a thriller and the race was great all around.
As you all know, I usually find myself writing all the time, but on this vacation there was little of that. However, I was killing time on the four airplanes we traveled in, and looking at some of my old manuscripts and first drafts of short stories. I found many fun things I had forgotten, both fantasy and sci-fi.
For the most part it was a good experience, going through my old work. There were some horribly phrased things and many instances 0f “what was I thinking” as I looked at some of them. I was quite pleased with them at the time, as I remember, and many of them I submitted to various publishers.
It is a sad fact most rejection letters don’t tell you why you have been rejected, only that your work is not what they are lookijng for at this time. I understand most editors and publishers do not have the time to write individual letters of rejection, but it would be so helpful if the rejection could have said something like, “Dear Ms Jasperson, at this time we are not looking for poorly plotted, badly written science-fiction short stories, but please take a writing class, rewrite this drivel, and have it proof-read and edited properly. Then please re-submit it and we will give it every consideration.”
It was not until I entered the world of ‘writing contests’ that I began to discover what was not quite right about my work. That was when I realized that if I wanted to write books that other people would want to read, I would have to learn how to make my basic story as good as I could get it.
Most contests will give you some idea of what is expected in a manuscript, and you will then have to stretch yourself and your skills to meet those criteria.
Right now, the National Write a Novel in a Month organization, or NaNoWriMo is gearing up for their annual ‘Camp NaNoWriMo’ where they challenge us to go outdoors and write 50,000 words during the months of June or July. When you join the wonderful people at NaNoWriMo you really begin to meet other writers, often in your area.
It is when you are able to connect with others who are doing what you love that you begin to grow your skills. You learn what it is that agents and publishers want in a manuscript. You also begin to develop self knowlege, i.e. do you wish to be self-published or are you going to take the traditional route.
I highly reccomend getting involved in NaNoWriMo, and accessing all the wonderful levels of support they offer the new and beginning author! I did, and in November of 2010, I wrote the first draft of The Last Good Knight.
I always say that if I can finish a manuscript, anyone can. I was always the worst at finishing projects as a young person. But there is something about a story – I can’t just leave it there unfinished.
So as I looked through the old scribblings on the airplane, I realized that it was my chance encounter with NaNoWiMo which set me on the road that I now travel. Someday I will know everything I need to about this business, and someday the work will flow from my fingers in perfectly crafted paragraphs, but in the meantime I will continue to hone my skills and take the advice of all the wonderful people who guide me on this amazing journey.