Somehow, this year has been simultaneously the best and worst for my writing.
On reflection over the past week, I felt my writing had been stunted for much of 2018. I hadn’t made enough progress. I wrote less than in 2016, when I wrote my entire 130k-word first draft in 3 months, and in 2017, when I completed numerous revisions and rewrote large chunks of that MS. I moved house and spent six months renovating what evolved into an HGTV-level disaster, leaving no time for writing as I slept on inflatable mattresses and worked long hours at the main job.
In short, it felt a bit like failure. I started writing in October 2016, and at the end of 2018 I still had only one completed MS.
But, as those thoughts swarmed my mind, I remembered all the great things that happened. In April I discovered Twitter pitch events and created an account specifically to participate in DVPit. I’ve done a few pitch events since, and each one got traction with agents. But, more importantly, that was the catalyst for my entrance to the writing community.
For reasons numerous enough to fill a separate post, I’d stayed away from other writers. I wrote in isolation, with no feedback. I knew no writers in my private life. I’d never heard of beta readers and the thought of sending my work to a total stranger filled me with horror. Yet, I queried. Widely.
Obviously, my queries were met with mixed responses, but pre-April 2018 saw many form rejections. Once April came and I threw myself into writing groups on Facebook and Twitter, things started to change.
With the help of those amazing people, I revolutionized my query. I perfected the blurb. I attracted a steady stream of beta readers that continues today. I began accumulating feedback. A lot of this was surprisingly positive. As a newbie, I never expected my writing to be complemented. However, there were also amazing suggestions on how to take things to the next level.
With this feedback, I did two sets of revisions and edits between June and August. I sent a small, carefully-selected batch of fresh queries. Some to agents I had queried in 2017, some to agents I hadn’t queried before.
I saw an immediate change in how my work was received. I started getting requests for partials and fulls, some of which are still outstanding. I started getting personalized rejections, some with lovely feedback and praise. The rejections didn’t bother me anymore, because some were so pleasant.
While the progress on my other titles went at a glacial pace, the quality of the writing was vastly higher than earlier drafts of my first MS. While I hadn’t clocked up a lot of words, I was satisfied with the ones I’d written.
Therefore, 2018 was a mixed bag kind of year. If you feel you’re in a similar position, reflect on the writing progress you made that can’t necessarily be measured in words.
Happy New Year for 2019!