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