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Saturday, July 25, 2009

The (Ugly) Truth

Okay, so after my self-congratulatory post about how I met all of my goals, it's time to look more closely.........(I have a feeling I'm not going to like this nearly so much.)

1. Yes, I did finish a middle grade book, and revised it a great deal, mostly dealing with structural issues. I learned so much from this process. Mostly that when I start a long book I can finish it. (Which is good). And also, well, the first draft is, um, well, maybe not so great. Structural issues, over-writing.........yikes. And yet, if I try too hard in the first draft to correct these problems, I get stilted junk. Which means that I have to settle for cruddy first drafts. Followed by very focused revision, and lots of work.

2. Okay, about those 12 drafts....well, the reality is that only 6 of them are polished and shiny, and only 3 of them were sent anywhere. SERIOUSLY. Why?? Why??? (Well, the truth is that I don't like the other half of them enough to do the polishing. I have lost the belief in these pieces so they will sit until either something comes to me to make them brilliant or I chalk it up to learning.) But why did I only send 3 out?? WHY? Because I really, really, really need to work on my organizational skills.

3. So, the true reality is that I write a lot of stuff that will never see the light of day.....and that didn't change just because I became a published author. I sometimes wish it would. I sometimes wish that everything I write would have that faerie-dust sparkle to it, that special magic.

  • So, if you look at the stats: I like only half of my drafts (this does not include the non-guided free writing I engage in every day.)
  • Only half of the stuff I revise even gets a chance due to lack of business skills.
  • Only one of the twelve was liked enough by my publisher.
So, I guess if I want to increase my chance of getting published, I just need to write a heckuva lot more.

Or write better.

Or both.


Corey Schwartz said...

Hi Shelley,

So glad you found my blog. (or I never would have discovered yours!)

I'd love to talk more about the whole agent and publishing experience.


storyqueen said...

Aw, Corey, thanks for stopping by! And I just got your e-mail, so I'll probably be shooting one back to you soon.

I'm so happy to find other picture book writers out here in blogland.

I think the idea of a book about Ninja Pigs sounds awesome!

(And I am all about fun titles!!!)


Casey McCormick said...

As long as you have one foot forward, I say you're doing really good!

Goals are such fabulous things.

Good luck with your next set!

storyqueen said...

Hi Corey!

I love your blog. It is very helpful and nicely set up. I especially appreciate all of the background info you give on agents. It sounds like an "insider's" report.....

Come by anytime!


Stephanie Perkins said...

No need to back up or explain — YOU MET YOUR GOALS! That's a huuuuuge cause for celebration! It'd be impossible to expect all (or even most) of your work to ready for sending out.

(Besides. If it was all polished and shiny, well, there'd be some hardcore bitterness on this end. I'm just sayin'.)

storyqueen said...

Steph, you are too sweet!

Actually, the tough thing about picture books is that sometimes, regardless of how great the idea, how magical the language, how fantastic the pacing, just doesn't work in the end.

Some ideas are too wily to allow themselves to be captured on the page. With longer pieces, you can wrestle them to the ground and force have more time, more weapons at your disposal. But for a picture book, it either has to click.....or not.

But you can't really tell until it's done.


I've certainly written my share of clickers (hooray) and tankers (booo). Fortunately (or not) I know the difference.

But, still, why didn't I send out the good ones?????? why, shelley, why???

Sorry, I hijacked a comment on a post on my own blog.....control issues much?