Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Insecure Writing Support Group (August)

It's the first Wednesday of the month and that means time for another group posting of IWSG! The team have recently introduced a new question feature each month to go alongside the posts. This month's question is;

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

The first thing I wrote, with any serious aspirations of being a writer, was something quite ambitious! I leapt straight in and wrote a whole novel in the contemporary woman's fiction genre. Back in 2009 when I started, this was the genre I thought I would write in. I knew little nothing about things like, planning, structure, plot and so on, I just wrote and what I ended up with, all those months later, was 91,424 words of something vaguely resembling a story but which of course, at the time, I thought was amazing! With the advantage of hindsight and several years of hard work later, I know differently. Reading it makes me cringe at the clunky phasing and dodgy punctuation. There was too much telling and not enough showing, cliche that makes me want to hide behind a pillow to read but best (or worst!) or all it starts with the main character waking up and looking in a mirror! But . . . I had proved to myself I could complete a novel and that was HUGE. 

The piece was called Jigsaw. It dealt with the lives of several characters, and showed how their lives fitted together but also how small, seemingly inconsequential decisions, can be life changing. There was a lot wrong with the story, but I think the plot itself was quite well imagined, I just didn't have the skill to do it justice at the time. Who knows, maybe one day I will revisit it and turn it into something much better but at the current time it languishes on my laptap as a reminder of how far I've come.

If I hadn't written it, maybe I wouldn't be the writer I am now. We have to constantly grow and learn to move forward and I think Jigsaw was a big part of my own writing puzzle . . . an apprenticeship if you like, that showed me the direction I would ultimately take in my writing. Any regulars here will know that I actually write mainly for children . . . early readers, middle grade and young teen is where I am most comfortable. Although I do write some short stories for adults which I find a nice contrast as I can explore themes and ideas that would just not work or be appropriate in children's fiction.

In a way my biggest insecurity at the moment relates to this very first piece. I have come such a long way and yet there still seems a long way to go. I have made no secret of the fact that I would love to publish through traditional routes. I work hard for it, I would continue to work hard for any agent or publisher who took a chance on an unknown like me. Despite some great feedback from agents, publishers and editors in the past I am still travelling that road, looking for the perfect fit, for the stars to align and for that little bit of luck that will push me to the next level. Because I do believe there is an element of luck involved, when you look at some of the statistics of making it through the slushpile you can see the odds are staked against you.

Brilliant, well-known writers often share their own experiences of rejection and I thank them for that, it helps to know that they have been here. They have experienced those days of despair when you feel like chucking it all in and taking up a more realistic dream, because it is hard to pick yourself up and carry on. But they didn't give up and neither will I.  My own personal mantra when things get tough has always been;

"To be successful a writer needs two things. Belief and hope. Belief in themselves and their writing and hope that others share their belief."


This is just my story and my dream but if this IWSG sees you despairing of ever reaching your goals, whatever they may be, hang in there and believe in yourself, but most importantly of all . . . enjoy the journey.

 
First Wed of Every Month 

Thanks as ever to Alex J. Cavanaugh for being our host and this months co-hosts;

                                                                    Julie Flanders


32 comments:

  1. A wonderful read Suzanne, I think we all remember out first stab at writing albeit fiction, poetry or non fiction. A good question for this months ISWG,
    Yvonne.

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    1. It is a good question. I have read some great stories of people's first stories on the blogs today.

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  2. Yep, odds are stacked big time against us, but there is always the 1 in 1000 or whatever the odds may be. Who's to say you couldn't be that one.

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  3. Well done Suzanne on that mantra - it's the right way to go ... continue on and never give up ... have you read Denise Covey's recent post ... http://dencovey.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/iwsg-post-writing-at-desk-jane-austen.html I thought it was inspirational ... and then there's her Gardens WEP challenge ...

    Cheers and you will get there - definitely ... Hilary

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    1. I'll check it out, Hilary. Thank you.

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  4. I actually love to see how awful my first attempts were because then I can see my growth. :) Jigsaw sounds like a great idea for a book, though. I hope you work on it again one day.

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    1. Oh yeah there is definite improvement and that is a great thing to see. Sometimes we forget how much progress we have made. Thanks, Chrys.

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  5. I know what you mean about first attempts! I look back at mine--the way it was, and I laugh. This is the beauty of rewriting. I still love the story from my very first novel, but not the way it was written. It wasn't that difficult to rewrite it, and I love it's new, shiny version.

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    1. I think because we are continually learning (hopefully!) it is natural to want to make changes were possible. I think every writer must want their work to be the shiniest version it can be!

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  6. We have to honor our early attempts at writing, they are our first baby steps and should be remembered.

    Even well know authors - Jane Yolen for example - still get rejections!

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    1. Yes, I think it is really important to remember that rejection is part of the learning process, that's why I thank those well-known authors that share their own stories. It helps put things into perspective. Thanks, Bish.

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  7. I loved reading about your first story. What a learning experience for you. I'll bet there are some nuggets of gold in that story. Glad you wrote it and glad you told us about it here today.

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    1. There might well be . . . I would like to take a closer look one day.

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  8. I enjoyed this post so much, Suzanne! I have a number of manuscripts, large and small, languishing in a file drawer. One day ... I frequently kick myself around the block for writing with cliches! I, too, appreciate the rejection letters, because they encourage you not to give up! Happy writing!

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    1. Thank you :) I am glad you enjoyed hearing about it.

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  9. Sharing with other writers is what makes it possible for us writers to continue to grow. And I don't think anyone likes their very first attempt at writing, so you're in good company.

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  10. Wow, that was a great go word wise at a first manuscript, and the jigsaw thing sounds interesting--worth revisiting. Rejections are a very frustrating but necessary part of the game, but the key is not to give up. So I'm told ;)

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  11. I hope you keep Jigsaw. Even if you never go back and redo it I think it's good to keep our beginnings. It shows where we came from and it shows we can do it.

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  12. You never know - you might go back to that giant mess one day.
    Rejections are frustrating, but the more we get, the close to a yes we become.

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  13. Keep at it, Lady. I too want to be traditionally published. I have met some agents who have encouraged me to keep at it, but I haven't found the fit for me. So, I'll keep looking as I keep learning. That will bring good results in the end.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

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  14. A journey is a journey. Best not to look too far back or too far ahead. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  15. I think it's a good thing to look back at the beginning of our writing journey and appreciate how much we have developed and improved over time. I hope you revisit that story one day, or at least use some parts of it in future work. Thank you very much for sharing.

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  16. Jigsaw has a great premise.
    Best wishes on your continued journey.

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  17. Like you, I wrote my first story knowing little about structure, plot, etc. Boy, have I learned a lot since then! Love your line about enjoying the journey. How true!

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  18. I hope you do revisit that first novel someday. It just might be a bestseller in the rough. Love your mantra. Never give up!

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  19. The plot of Jigsaw sounds intriguing, something I'd enjoy reading - I love stories about the small things that are actually huge things :-)

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  20. Looking back at my old stories always makes me cringe, too. I wouldn't be surprised if you did return to Jigsaw someday, though, in some form. (I'm currently in the middle of doing just that with one of mine, although it doesn't resemble the original story much at all anymore, LOL.)

    Also, best of luck achieving your dream of traditional publication! That's not an easy journey to take, for sure. Glad you've managed to resist the urge to quit whenever despair is at its worst!

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  21. I've thought about stuff I've written in the past with the sentiment of "Oh my, why did I write that?" But I actually think that we writers demonstrate growth when we are able to look at our past work with reflection. I like the idea behind your story- how people's lives fit together. Maybe someday you can revise this story and see where it goes.

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  22. Thank you all so much for stopping by and for your lovely comments. Who knows, I may try and re-work that Jigsaw one day!

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  23. Hey Suzanne,

    Yes, it's me, beyond fashionably late! "Jigsaw" seems like quite the premise and it wouldn't puzzle me you went back and re-worked it.

    I think I wrote way betterer when I was a young lad.

    Gary :0

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