Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Writing Life, Simplified

I realized yesterday that I started writing almost exactly 4 years ago.

I thought about those years and decided it might be fun to break them down.

So here's my life (in mostly chronological order):

Year One:

-Wrote really crappy stuff
-Let family and friends read some of it (much to my embarrassment)
-Learned a lot

Year Two:

-Finished first book
-Sent 2 queries
-Realized it was awful and put it away
(hopefully forever--no one should ever have to read that book!)
-Finished second book
-Queried agents
-Had some requests and a few invitations to rewrite
-Met writing group

Year Three:

-Signed with lovely agent
-Began blogging
-Revised more
-Started several new books
-Started tweeting
-Went to my first writing conference with my writing group girls
-Met many writers online and in real life

Year Four:

-Had horrific pregnancy
-Had sick baby
-Finished first draft of third book
-Shelved third book
-Wrote first draft of fourth book
-Went to second writing conference and met my agent
(who is even more lovely in person)
-Let fourth book simmer while working on fifth book
-Made plans to finish fourth and/or fifth book before 2012

And that's where I'm at.

I think if someone told me when I started writing my first book that I'd have to write at least four more before I saw one published I would have been discouraged.

But, looking back, I'm not discouraged at all. It's been a wonderful four years. I've learned a lot and plan to learn a lot more over the next four. And, you know, hopefully sell something someday.

How long have you been writing? How have those years shaped your perception of writing and publishing?


Anita Saxena said...

I've been seriously writing since 2004. Let's just say that a lot has happened during that time, including three full books and many many many partial or close to finished drafts. I've only queried once, and a bit to early. But, as you, I have learned soooo much and met many amazing writers along the way. Thank you for sharing your journey =)

Anonymous said...

I've been seriously writing since 1994, when I was a teen.

It's interesting seeing your timeline. It makes me thoughtful of my own.

Have a great week.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been writing seriously yet. I have dabbled, writing a first chapter here and there. It's rather sad, because I have been entrenched in the YA community for at least a year now. But I do hope to gather together threads of self-control to take my own writing dreams seriously.

Thank you so much for sharing your writing journey with us!

Sarah Skilton said...

Sounds like you've been through a lot the past four years and I think it's commendable you've written as much as you have!

I started writing screenplays back in college, in 1998, and spent several years chasing that dream. I eventually transitioned to magazine articles and novels around 2005, but I had to write and revise a few books before I got my publishing offer.

Looking at it strictly in terms of numbers (or, eep, decades) might seem depressing, but the thing is, I enjoyed every moment of the creative process. I'm grateful I spent those years doing something I loved.

And when I'd get discouraged it was "taking too long," I always reminded myself it's not a race. The only important thing is to keep learning.

I've got my fingers crossed you'll strike gold with this fourth or fifth manuscript.

Scott Stillwell said...

I've only been writing "seriously" for about 8 months, but I feel like I'm at least another 6 months from a completed first draft. Sometimes I feel like it's going nowhere, but reading blogs like yours and Karen Hooper's keeps me motivated. Thanks for sharing :)

Tracy Loewer said...

I remember when you and your crit partners first got together, because I had thought about asking to join in (I was pretty new to the whole writing thing at the time, and very shy). It's fun to look back on the writing journey because it's so different for everyone. The way I see it, it doesn't matter how long it takes to get published; it'll happen when it happens, and there's so much to be learned along the way! I know I've learned a ton in the last couple of years, and if I'm consistent, my writing can only get better.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I've dabbled in writing since 2000, but got serious three and a half years ago. I've learned so much, but I'm still working on learning patience!

Wen Baragrey said...

I think my timeline is quite similar, actually, except for the getting an agent bit! Oh well. Never surrender!

Em-Musing said...

I've been writing all of my life but never saw me as a published writer till ten years ago.

Keisha Martin said...

I started writing summer of 2009 and like many aspiring writers I queried too early, the query worked but I needed to work on the novel first, as of late I have outlined novels that I love in all genres until 2020, I know that is crazy but I realized I am a panster and I write better when I have an outline, because I add so much more to the outline. I was rushing to get an agent, fears that I will never get published, deadline to achieve all that before I turn 40, then I had an awakening right now all I can control is writing and the immense joy it brings me, I believe when you get published it will be an amazing sometimes the late bloomer makes the best bouquet, I appreciate you sharing your journey again I don't feel so alone and I have stopped feeling sorry for myself, I tell myself the fact I have not quit so far means the journey is important to me.

paulsifer42 said...

I've only been writing seriously for a few months, but I've really enjoyed it so far. It's fun to tell people I'm a writer. The most common reaction I get is surprise.

DL Hammons said...

I too have been at this for four years, and actually our first two years look eerily the same (except I started blogging in my second year). That's where the similarity ends. I've just returned from a really long break and hopefully I can get things moving in a positive direction now.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I love that I've been with you for a lot of those steps of your journey. <3

I can't wait for the day when we celebrate your first sale. It will be here before you know it! xo

Jessie Oliveros said...

Just a couple of years, and when I started out I was going to be published by now! Ha. Darn, shows how much I know. Still working on book two. And on book one really.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

When my book comes out it will be fourteen years after starting. Ignorance is bliss!

Valerie Geary said...

Your post made me smile because I started writing seriously four years ago this month too!! And your year 1 reads a lot like my year 1. :) Since then, I've published a handful of short stories and written another handful of novels, none of which I queried very long. Alas, I'm on novel #6 and I think I'm finally reaching a place where I'm ready to jump in with both feet and see where I land...and that kind of freaks me out.

Jaime Wright said...

That's a hefty four years and some big accomplishments! You should be pleased :)

Elana Johnson said...

What a great idea to breakdown your years. I don't think I can remember what I did in each year of writing, though. My memory is terrible. But I've been writing for 4 years, just like you!

Joanne Fritz said...

Great post, Natalie! I started writing when I was eight years old, which is far too many years ago. But I didn't start seriously trying to write children's books until 24 years ago when my first son was born. Then by the time my second came along, I gave up.

Fast forward a lot more years, and after recuperating from the brain aneurysm, I decided four years ago this year (but it was February, not August!) that if I'm ever going to be published I'd better knuckle down and start writing again. I've learned so much since then.

Your output in those four years is amazing! I'm working on my second novel now (and the first will probably never see daylight), but I HAVE finished and revised a dozen picture books, which I love to write.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

It is very interesting to break it down like this, Natalie. And you know, you have made amazing progress! I've been writing a long time -- 20 years. Not books for that whole time though. It's been a wonderful process of learning, word by (sometimes painful) word. :) I can't imagine any other life as fulfilling as the writing life. Well, writing and mothering; now there's the best of both worlds from what I have experienced. I feel very blessed, and you are as well!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I've been seriously writing since 2008. :) This was a great post. SO many changes in so little time. I can't wait to see what happens in the next 4 years! :D