Three years ago today, I was sitting in front of this computer, staring at the judgmental blinking cursor on the blank page. We had moved to the Seattle-area just a few months earlier, all five of us crammed into a 2-bedroom apartment, my husband looking for work, and exploring the new world of autism (my middle child had been formally identified as autistic earlier in the month). Slowly, the words began to form on the page, piecing together a story that had been bouncing around in my mind for over twenty years.
That was the beginning of Bad River. Three years later, it’s still not done. *shrug* I’m staring down the barrel of my tenth revision. Yeah, TEN versions of this story, some more complete than others, have come and gone. So have several beta readers (professionals and friends), numerous “first page” critiques through classes and competitions, and two nerve-wracking pitches to agents.
(Funny story about the agent pitches. I had booked those pitches when I had the seventh version out with beta readers, deluded-ly thinking that I could do one last revision, maybe a pass through a professional editor, and then start querying. I know, I know.
Anyway, about two weeks before the conference I was going to pitch at, I fell down a Google hole and, in the process, discovered a major, gaping plot hole. The kind of plot hole that emerges in a different dimension, covered in shit. It was a bad, bad plot hole. Had I progressed with that version, I would have been skewered if it had ever gotten published or been read by, well, anyone.
And it was not an easy plot hole to fix, either. In the end, I decided to split the story into two timelines, with two main characters, and weave the two narratives together. This, of course, meant a complete rewrite with some new characters, a whole new town, new relationships, new villains. Not something I could conceivably get done in two weeks. No way, no how.
But, yo, I had these pitches scheduled and paid for, right? I figured I could go and pitch the new idea anyway, letting the agents know that I wasn’t anywhere close to finished, but just looking for feedback on the idea. Smart move, yes?
In some ways, it worked out. Both agents (and the instructor at the conference I spoke to about the book) were interested in the idea. One agent told me she didn’t care how long I took to get it completed, but she wanted my query once it was done. Yay me!
However, here I am nearly eight months later, ready to start on version TEN, and worried that I’ve missed my chance. That said, hopefully what I am constructing here will be worth the sweat and tears and headaches by the time I’m done.)
So, three years later and still not done with the book, but two agents have expressed interest and I’m starting to panic. I have a professional manuscript consult scheduled for (gulp!) next week to hopefully work through some issues. Once of my main characters has a bad motivator.
It’s the end of the year as well as the anniversary of starting on the Bad River journey and I find myself feeling contemplative (and a little unhinged).
I’ve been so busy trying to get Bad River under control that I haven’t really done much with my short stories this year. Looking back at my stats, I have submitted seven stories (or chapters, in the case of BR) to fourteen publications and/or contests. Of those, two of those submissions are still pending, while four of them have either been published (Genesis and The Kalip Woman) or have made it past the initial rounds in different contests (She Works Hard for the Money and I Haven’t Forgotten; neither was published). So, not a terribly great year, but I’m not displeased with it. I’m very happy to have found a home for Genesis (it’s one of my favorites) and I am extremely proud of The Kalip Woman. Have you read them? If not, you should, and tell me what you think.
Looking forward to 2018, I am planning on getting Bad River at least to the point where I can hand it off to a professional for a solid developmental edit in preparation for querying. I also hope to get back to writing more short fiction and making more submissions to different journals and contests. I would love to have more things to share with you here. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, I am going to take more time for self-care and reading.
What do you all have planned for 2018? Are there any prompts you would like to see me tackle?
Happy New Year, everyone!