Little children can have incredible dreams. They can believe they can fly, shoot into space, slide to the other side of the rainbow and land in a pool of pink bubbles made of cotton candy. The dreams grow even more fantastic when there's no adult around to tell them to stop dreaming. And that's when children become scribes. My message today is for first time writers. I want the world to know that I've made mistakes in pursuit of my dreams. Why? It's our frailties that render us human.
Years ago I committed a crime that immortalized the words of a horny teenager. I submitted what I considered a masterpiece to be filed in the Library of Congress. Why? It was my first completed manuscript. I was young, and I thought it was the initial step to publishing. Pleased with my achievement, I queried an agent and sent him the first fifty pages only to receive a tiny card with an impersonal refusal. I was devastated. Believe it or not, your first rejection should be gut-wrenching. That’s what makes you try harder.
I purchased a how-to book and educated myself in the art of querying, which for me is as horrible as attempting a sudoku. I learned about manuscript format, spacing, and the dreaded synopsis. I began to search the net for agents, having memorized the common mantra. “The business of publishing is subjective.” Translation: An agent has to love the story enough to toot your horn and get publishers to like it. That’s okay. We want an agent that’s going to be passionate about our writing.
There are rules to follow. Know your genre. If you find an agent that represents your genre, it’s a good idea to check out the books on his site to see where you fit. Obviously, I’m still searching. There is an overwhelming amount of information available on the internet alone for anyone who wishes to master the art of writing. Don’t ignore it. Show respect. Know your grammar. Demonstrate your willingness to learn. Whoever said that ignorance is bliss was a fool.
Some books are meant to be shelved. None of us are born with a quill in hand ready to execute the perfect novel. Your first few attempts at writing serve a purpose, to chisel away the rough edges. You’ll find you’re telling instead of showing, going crazy with the adverbs, accidentally writing porn scenes, and losing all track of the plot. When all else fails, just write because it’s what you love to do.
The best advice I can offer: Don’t view an obstacle as an opposing force. Instead, see it as an opportunity to better yourself and ultimately achieve the much coveted literary glory.
Happy writing, and don't forget about your dreams.