I like to look back in December on the year that is ending – and when I think about this blog, I think about my goal of being a writer. It was here that I declared that goal to the world. I can say that I am closer now than I have ever been. In fact, there are some days when I willingly accept that is part of who I am and not just a game of pretend. I write a lot – and I am working on it in one fashion or another every day.
Over the past year, I’ve been busy – working full time, taking care of family, organizing and throwing a wedding for our only daughter – basically, a full plate and a busy life, all by itself. That’s just how I roll – busy is a usual state for me.
I added a new twist to the mix this year by volunteering to be an intern for a Literary Agency. That has added a lot to my load, with the expectation that I’d read and review about two manuscripts a week. Some are short (35K words) and some go on for three times that long. My reading and blogging time has taken a hit – but I’m learning some really valuable lessons in the process.
As an intern, I’ve read 45 manuscripts in the past 8 months. I took a few weeks off while on vacation and around Laurel’s wedding, but my average is about 1.5 per week. Of those, 41 were fiction and 4 were non-fiction. The genres were all over the map – some took me way out of my normal zone, but that’s a refreshing exercise. My average reader’s report was about 2,250 words long for a total of 101,250 words. That’s a boatload of writing. Heck, that’s a fair sized novel.
I’ve learned a lot more about what makes a good query letter and have honed my ability to spot good writing versus crappy writing versus solid writing. There’s an indescribable something that good writers have that makes their manuscript stand out. I have had that experience only 2 times so far out of 45 – one time, it was something I thought I’d like and was pleased when I did, the second time, it was something I was sure I would not like and found it was wonderful. So – reading a lot of different authors’ works gives me a better insight into my own. I’m not a bad writer. I’m pretty good. But I have things to learn as well.
Out of these 45, I recommended 21 for revise and resubmit, 18 for rejection and 6 for representation. I don’t know if that’s what ultimately happened – I’m not in that part of the loop – but I do know that I find myself rooting for the writers and may be a little over generous about the revise and resubmit. I empathize with their plight.
I queried my completed manuscript to 20 agents, had 6 requests for partials that turned into 1 request for the full. It is still in the revise and resubmit zone. I got it back from the agent who’d requested it and am now trying to figure out how to incorporate the suggestions.
I’ve also been working on a new story. It’s at about 60,000 words and has kind of taken over my brain. I need to figure out if it’s worth pursuing or if it’s just a pile of words. So far, I think there’s a pony in there somewhere. I’ll keep digging.
I entered 6 writing contests and didn’t win a single one – but was a finalist in one and an honorable mention in another.
A piece I wrote years ago was accepted into an anthology and is now available on Amazon.
I participated in a Blog Tour and enjoyed learning more about how others approach their writing. It was a fun exercise and I am looking for more opportunities to expand my network with other writers.
I finalized a writing project that I’d been working on for over a year. It was a Guide to Mentoring handbook based on my experience as a mentor during my career. I put it together and shared it through our company’s mentoring organization and it has been provided to many of our new hires as they join the company. I feel good knowing people are reading it. I continue to write articles at work for our various platforms and provide editorial services where needed.
Last but not least, I continue to try to do the Friday Flash Fiction piece and was successful about half the time this year. I have not been a very good blogger, but I have not abandoned it, either. I will aim to be more dedicated in 2015!
All in all, it was a busy and good year. I have had a chance to learn, I’ve honed my own writing skills and I’ve stretched myself in new directions. I feel good about the progress I’m making, even though there are many days when I kick myself for not writing more regularly. I think that’s part of the writer’s process. We like to kick ourselves. Just for fun.
I have a sign in my home office the simply says “Believe”. I put it up there, feeling slightly ridiculous, because what are the odds that I could really make the transition to being a writer? But I look at it and every now and then I find myself smiling. I am making this happen. And I do believe. I do.