Recently my first novel, The Dreamwalkers of Larreta, was accepted for publication by Ellysian Press, a traditional small press that produces both print and ebooks.
I have been writing and marketing this book for several years, but not until I shortened it to 90,000 words did it sell. This says more about my continuing education in how to structure a novel that anything else. When I mentioned this to a friend, she nodded and said, “that was your practice novel.” I guess we all have one. The novel we’re burning to write and do, but without really knowing how the heck to do it.
I rewrote Dreamwalkers at least four times, and that does not include the copyedits and proofreading. Finally, I thought I had it, and the answer is, almost. As part of Ellysian’s editing process, I have agreed to pick up the pace in the second act and slow down the ending (I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have someone tell me what the book needs to be more marketable). I am happily preparing to embark on the next round of edits.
As part of a creativity class, I advise that students stop “thinking” about being creative and start “doing.” Even if the doing is not exactly what they want. Any creative act fuels the furnace and gets you closer to that center where we all want to live.
While using my own process with Dreamwalkers I realized that I had followed the steps I was teaching my students.
- Conceive the project. That’s easy. I have a long story itching to be told.
- Vision the specific end result you want. That wasn’t hard either. I knew how it started and how it ended.
- Describe current reality. Am I writing every day? Do I have the knowledge and resources to write a novel?
- Take Action. Without over-planning, get going. This is what NaNoWriMo is about. Just do it. Edit later. Get it out of your head.
- Adjust/Learn/Evaluate/Adjust. This is the rewriting, dealing with structure, character arcs, plot points, and all the rest of turning raw copy into a readable book.
- Build Momentum. As many wise writers have said, experience matters. Working over time matters. You learn. You build skills. Epiphanies occur. This is what makes you a professional.
- Completion. You decide when a creation is complete.
None of this is new, but it emphasizes what I believe are the critical elements in any creative work. Vision, Act, Learn, Evaluate.
If you wait until you have it worked out perfectly in your head, your life will go by. The creative process is messy and often disorganized. No first draft comes out the way you envision it. Writing is rewriting. And wow, is it fun.
MARKETS AND RESOURCES
If you have a holiday story in the hopper, Flash Fiction Online is an example of a regularly publishing site open to holiday submissions (note the holiday instructions in their guidelines). Open genre. Accepts 500-1000 word stories. Pays $60/story.
For beginning to well-established professional writers interested in learning more and keeping up-to-date on writing for children, selling their writing, and the juvenile publishing industry. Features 1,700 to 2,000 words pay $300.
The blog The Stranger View is looking for books to review. They also accept book reviews.
A Valentine anthology of lesbian fiction is accepting short stories until November 15.