Continuing to write up a draft log until Queen is either accepted for publication or else put into a drawer, since I’m finding the process both enlightening and useful. (I’d hate to say “trunked” since I may still pull it back out again later, who knows with this one.)
Sent Queen off to a handful of readers who volunteered after my post requesting help. Even though this is not a novel but a novella, I was not confident I’d hear back or that those who read it would like it, considering the story matter. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. I then distracted myself by writing the rough draft of a 7.5k short story in 2 weeks, completely surprising myself that I managed to pull that one off. I really needed it, though, both the story and the success in writing it so quickly. (It was also short-listed in October which made me so happy. I am so grateful for that, too.)
November, I heard back from the one reader who ended up sending me feedback. In December over the holidays I questioned the family members who had also read it for second opinions about how certain things played out, just so I could get some rough sketch about what direction to take revisions in.
I’m not going to lie, I got really discouraged. And it wasn’t so much the idea that there were still revisions to do that was discouraging as the realization that I would have very little help or feedback to revise with. With so little interest in the story or follow-through from the volunteers, I had to decide whether it was worth pursuing this story, dumping more of my resources into finding help for it, or calling it off. While trying to decide, I took advantage of #Pitmas to learn how to write better pitches. I didn’t place, but I did learn more about pitching, thanks to Amanda C. Davis‘ help. (If you haven’t read any of her stories, you’re missing out. She’s a fantastic person and superb writer.)
It’s also worth noting that I was EXTREMELY burnt out from churning out 50k of non-fiction in November on top of my chronic illness. That was an incredibly unwise grind I put myself through, but like all folly-filled experiences, I learned a lot from it. Still, not very happy months, writing-wise.
I tried to revise Queen for about a week, the second week of January after returning home from the holidays. I was still so burnt-out and exhausted, though, that I gave that up after a week of very little progress and even more discouragement to show for it. I realized that I can’t edit/revise on an empty well. The next week I started drafting a follow-up story to the short story I wrote in September, and instantly felt better and became happier. I modified my goals to writing a little bit each day, resting and recovering from burn-out.
Still, my original plan was to submit Queen to World Weaver Press during its open submission period in February. I wasn’t going to let my discouragement stop me completely. Besides, I’m never going to get better at writing queries if I don’t practice writing queries. So, fully expecting not to actually pass the query phase, I retooled my query for the third and fourth time, sent it to a friend who helped me get it into its fifth form, and smacked on the requested first 5k and sent it off. And now as I write this, I’ve just received an e-mail saying they would like to see the full manuscript plus a synopsis. Like pitches and queries, the last synopsis I wrote was about 7 years ago and it was absolutely terrible. So now I get to finish revising and draft a passable synopsis (hopefully not a terrible one) in a reasonable amount of time. Hopefully by the end of this week.
If nothing else comes of this, I am glad of two things: One, I wrote a query that squeaked me by into the next stage, which I was completely not expecting to pull off, considering how terrible my query started out; Two, that this novella is getting read, even if by only a few, and that it is teaching me how to pitch and write queries, how to write then revise a full story rather than just individual chapters. I have learned and am learning a lot. And even if this story does not make it into public readership for whatever reason, I needed to write it and I’m glad I did.
ETA: I used writing my synopsis as a tool to also help me revise for draft 3.0. I’ve heard of people using outlines to revise and I think this is on the same lines. It was like being able to take step back a few feet to look at a painting from far away rather than close up. So that was encouraging. I probably could have–or should have–taken more time to revise, but I wanted to get this submission package out by the end of this week rather than keep them waiting forever and my energy is not limitless and I did burn myself out working on this on Monday, oops.
Just got a very nice rejection for the story, and one that is perfectly understandable. She liked my writing, the characters and the setting, but the plot and story structure wasn’t the kind she liked. So, from here I’m going to do what I said I would. I don’t have the means to self-publish QUEEN, and I need a break from it anyway, so I’m shelving it for now rather than continue to hunt down both a publisher that takes unsolicited novellas and one I’d want to work with. From here, I’m going to focus my efforts somewhere else.
I won’t say much more, but I will say I’m glad I did this. I’ve learned a lot from the journey of crafting this story and recording my thoughts about it. I’m also glad I wrote QUEEN how and when I did. QUEEN is one of the stories I needed to write, but just because I needed to write it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be enjoyed or liked by all and sundry. Is life, that’s just how it goes. 🙂
Until next time!