Thursday, February 28, 2008

Last Monday (18th) , I went to a free talk at our library for writers about publishing. I went mostly as a motivational thing, to tie some more action to my goals. I also thought it might be good to meet some others with like goals. The people there, or should I say the women there, for there was only one man in the group and he was there with/for a woman (oh and since it was President's Day, I had Cheese with me), 2 of them were doing children's books, and the rest non-fiction memoir/ or issue types of things. This surprised me. I had just assumed it would be mostly fiction novelists.

I was very nervous as we were going through the group, each telling our genres, but before we got to me, the instructor had cause to share of her story about her first husband's suicide, and how it had effected her, and their sons. This reality check made me feel like an idiot, sitting there afraid to say words to describe genre. Sad how I seem to take courage for simple things, again and again, from being made aware that others face great challenges and go on. In my nervousness, I said fantastical realism instead of magical realism, she corrected me, and I lived to tell about it.

Anyway, I am glad I went. In my world, it was a bold action. She gave out lists of useful resources. I asked questions and got answers. She talked of the importance of having a clean manuscript. There was a time when editors, publishers, cultivated talent, now they just don't have the time. She told us, they are very busy during the day at work, submissions don't get read till they are at home, when they are tired, and just want to be done for the day, and that the trick was to keep them interested, to keep them from slush piling you, so they could keep moving through the stack. To have them feel your story is worth their time(when there are hundreds of other stories to choose from). (and one would imagine to also hit them at the right time). She talked of the importance of doing your homework, so the right person would be reading it, and that things change so fast, that internet resources should be used, to make sure so and so still works there, and that they are currently interested in work like yours.

She assumed my story was YA, but I told her I had been thinking of it as novel fiction (for the over 20 market). But after talking to her about it, I have decided that when I am done with the draft, I will look over it and see if perhaps it wouldn't be well suited to YA, or made so without any compromise of importance, and if that would work then I will right my second draft as a YA story. I have been looking at the story through this angle lately, and think it could actually solve some of my concerns. I also think it would be easier to present to an agent, editor, publisher, as such. I think it would seem more sellable. There is a scene, written in a letter, referring to something erotic, I thought this meant it couldn't be YA, but she said as long as things aren't explicit the story can still be YA.

So I certainly got things to think over from the talk. When I get that far, I am really going to work on making the manuscript clean. The woman who gave the talk does editing. It sounded like a very good thing to have someone go over my manuscript (once I have one) and help point out errors in story and grammar. $3 a page might very well be out of the range of my budget though, maybe she would be willing to do one chapter instead (?). At any rate, I will cross that bridge when I come to it, I have to climb some hills, traverse some woodland patches, and cross a river or two first.
I now see the extreme importance of the first five pages, and all that I have to do to try and grab someone's attention, (starting most likely with an agent) with cover letter, synopsis (exact right words/terms aren't coming to me right now) so they are willing to give the first 5 pages a try. And now I am looking at my story's potential to be YA, which I had resisted before, but am starting to think I should embrace.

I was made aware of a writer's conference that is coming up in our area (it is over $100 bucks, and there is the issue of Cheese, so it is unlikely I will go this year), and of our areas writer's meetings once a month (to join to not join? I don't know, we once again go back to Cheese, and to money, and to my lack of bravery).

At any rate it did what it was supposed to do, put my mind back on the dream, back on the work.


Paul said...

That sounds like a good experience and similiar to mine at my local library with my local writer's network. I was very scared to attend my first meeting also, but was glad I did.

The first five pages are important. There is a web site called Flogging the Quill in which people submit their first page of their novel and the guy tells them if he would've "turned the page". Here is the link:

Pretty interesting stuff, even if I don't have the guts to send my first five pages.


Taffiny said...


Thanks for your words and the link.

In case it doesn't go without saying, it was reading your blog about going to a local writing meeting and joining a group, that gave me the inspiration and courage to go to the free library thing. (hey one little step at a time).

Oh and you need to submit your first five pages, so you can write about it on your blog, and inspire and give me courage to do the same. Oh and so you can progress on the path of being a writer yourself, of course. :)