I remember…(details of my early years writing)

I remember the thrill rising in my chest after watching a terrific movie. The aura that hung over me, pushing me to do something. (Was it indigestion?)

I remember the I’m-in-this-for-the-long-haul decision. (Once I realized it wasn’t indigestion but inspiration.)

I remember finding Harold Underdown’s site or maybe it was that other site that is now the Fighting Bookworms. They had a list of words not to use: just, very, exactly, usually, starting to, trying to… I went through with a swift sword of justice and eliminated every one from my work. Triumph!

I remember that my goal of one chapter a week was a lot. I mean I still needed time for all my favorite television shows.

I remember finishing my first draft and not understanding the whole revision thing because I couldn’t find one thing I’d change. My work was perfect.

I remember my first face-to-face critique group, even though they all wrote adult fiction, and taking each criticism to heart (even when it wasn’t good for my story).

I remember when I first heard the words ‘show don’t tell’ and ‘use the five senses’ and thinking, ‘What’s the big deal about those concepts?’

I remember revising and rewriting my first manuscript for three, yes you heard me right, three years! (I did learn a lot even though I should’ve moved on way earlier.)

I remember sending out my query and sample pages to publishers and eagerly checking the mailbox every day.

I remember my first rejection letters with some nice personal notes.

I remember saying I would absolutely never blog.

I remember the thrill of opening the Children’s Writer newsletter when it arrived in the mail.

I remember an agent rejecting a requested partial (from that first manuscript) with a note about three dimensional characters and arc. (What the heck did that mean?)

It’s good to remember.

I would’ve given anything for a free online conference like WriteOnCon. Seriously. I’m taking Wednesday off to enjoy the conference and dabble in the forums. Be back on Friday with my highlights.

What do you remember from your early years?

32 Responses to I remember…(details of my early years writing)

  1. mooderino August 15, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Not necessarily writing related, but things I don’t seem to do anymore:

    I remember laughing so hard my stomach hurt.

    Rushing home to watch certain tv shows.

    Going to the cinema in a big gang of people (and liking the movie).

    Deciding to go to the gym, and then going.

    Feeling full of energy at 2am.

    Moody Writing

  2. anne gallagher August 15, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    I had to laugh reading these. So many are my own. I had no idea what a blog was until one of the “mommies” in preschool told me I should be doing it. It took her six months to convince me. I could kick myself for not doing it 6 years ago.

  3. linda August 15, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Thanks for sharing, Laura! It’s always interesting to hear about other writers’ journeys. I don’t have much to share since I’m just starting out myself.

    I remember writing lots of snippets and openings when I was in middle and high school, daydreaming about my stories, but not finishing any of them.

    I remember reading a ton of publishing and writing blogs in college, soaking up the information, but not actually doing much writing myself (not even blog comments!).

    Now I blog and tweet and don’t lurk as much as I used to. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, and even though I’m terribly behind in word count, it feels good to be writing fiction again.

    Can’t wait to say “I remember completing a novel for the first time. It sucked but at least I did it.” 🙂

  4. Creepy Query Girl August 15, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    Oh yes, I remember my early years. I actually sent out hard copies to british agents for awhile. Looking forward to writeoncon!

  5. Carole Anne Carr August 15, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    Have a great time with the conference, Laura.

  6. christine danek August 15, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    I’m smiling because I remember these point. I remember people saying decide on a tense and go with it. I know a very simple thing, but I finally got it. Can’t wait for Write on Con.

  7. Kris August 15, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    I remember when you said you’d never blog! LOL

    It’s sort of awesome the way our writing evolves.

    I remember meeting a three women who changed my writing life. My crit group. And lot of other things you mentioned, too.

    I revised my first novel for five years. Still revising it, actually. 🙂

    • Laura August 15, 2011 at 11:28 am #

      Kris – yes the refusal to blog was actually more like 25 years ago. My mind changed quickly.

      Christine – I’m sure lots of people went through the stages I did too!

      Carole – Thanks!

      Katie – I never sent full ms hard copies but print of the query and the sample.

      Linda – It’ll happen for you! Work hard!

      Anne – You’re doing it now so that’s what matters.

      Mood – I remember all those fun times. Would love to go back!

  8. Donna K. Weaver August 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Can’t wait for your report. I wish my schedule was more flexible this week.

  9. Sarah August 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    I remember a lot of that … but it was less than two years ago, so if I didn’t, I’d probably have diagnosable dementia 🙂 I love hearing about the evolution of a writer, and the developmental arc is so often the same, no matter when it happens (I just happen to be a late bloomer, I guess).

  10. Karen Lange August 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I remember Children’s Writer too! Great resource. I just reviewed some of my older writing – what an eye opener, ugh. Glad we learn and grow as we go. Have a great week!

  11. Stina Lindenblatt August 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    I remember thinking teen beta readers were all I needed. I remember thinking I could learn to write well by doing what authors do (I’ve since learned unpublished writers are expected to live by other rules). Fortunately I did know back then that the chance of not being published was high.

    I saw the awesome WriteOnCon schedule this morning. I can’t wait!

    • Laura August 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      Most of start off as beginners and there is only one way to learn. Plunge in and hold on for the ride!

  12. shelley moore thomas August 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    I remember:

    1. Having no clue how to revise.

    2. Thinking that I would never need an agent–that I could manage just find by myself.

  13. Lydia K August 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I think I could have written this list myself!

  14. Loree Huebner August 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I remember writing fearlessly like there was no tomorrow.

  15. Pat Newcombe August 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Yes, yes… I can relate to many of the same things! Now look – you’ve set me off day dreaming!!
    Great post, Laura.

  16. Jill Kemerer August 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Oh, I can relate! I still remember the first time I came across the term “black moment.” Black moment? What the heck was that? And when I thought revising meant making sure everything was spelled correctly. Oh, those were the days!

  17. Lisa Green August 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Boy talk about character arcs! WE SURE DO CHANGE AND GROW A LOT during this learning process! All good stories to tell later when we are published. ;D

  18. Margo Berendsen August 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    I won’t even admit the number of years I spent on my first MS before moving on! 🙂

    And I WISH I’d had an agent or critiquer or ANYONE who could have pointed out and explained character arc earlier on. Somehow even with all the writing books I devoured, this never sunk in…

  19. Stacy August 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    When I first started writing seriously a nearly two years, I didn’t know much of anything. I had the gist of “show, don’t tell,” and using the five senses, but I didn’t really understand how to do it. And I certainly didn’t have the full concept of what it takes to write a book with a good plot. That first MS was a definite learning experience.

    I hope I have some time Wednesday to enjoy WriteOnCon. It’s a great thing for writers of all stages.


  20. Susan R. Mills August 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Wow! We have a lot of the same memories! 🙂 All those things are a necessary part of the journey.

  21. Susan Sipal August 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    What a lovely stroll down memory lane, Laura. I share so many of these as well.

    I remember with my 1st manuscript going back and revising from the start after every new point I learned along the way. What do you mean character names should not start with the same letter…and how did 1/2 my characters start with the letter “B”?!

    I remember my first writer conference, and then my first time speaking at a writer conference.

    I remember my first “call” for a sale!

    And I especially remember so many of the wonderful people I’ve met along the way…like you! 🙂

  22. Elle Strauss August 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    I still find it too painful to remember when…. I think hanging out at WriteOnCon on wednesday is a good idea. See you there!

  23. Karen Strong August 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    The early years. I remember those with shudders. But it always good to know so that you can see how far you’ve grown.

    I’ll have to check back in for your WriteOnCon highlights since I may not be able to catch live.

    • Laura August 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      Thanks everyone! Glad I’m not the only one! 🙂

  24. Lynda R Young August 15, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    I love this. It IS good to remember. It took me 9 years to write my first novel. I recently went back to check how long it was. For some reason I got it stuck in my head that it was about 130k. I was shocked to discover it was actually 219k LOL! I didn’t know much back then.

  25. Susan Kaye Quinn August 16, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    It’s so good to look back and see how far you’ve come and what you’ve already accomplished! 🙂

  26. Leigh Moore August 16, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    hey, what a nice plug for Write On Con! It is a fantastic resource.

    Hmm… I remember finishing my first book and just KNOWING everyone was going to be BEGGING me for it as is. I mean, we could work out any rough spots after the deal, right?

    LOL!!! *snort*snort*snort*

    sigh. (wipes tear) ;p

  27. Traci Kenworth August 16, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    I spent most of my early years starting and re-starting manuscripts. Mostly, it was because I lacked confidence. It wasn’t till tragedy filled my life, that I came to terms with the “writing bug” and let it guide me toward finishing. Eventually, I became dissatisfied with writing for myself and wanted to explore bringing my stories to others. Then came my critique partners. Some good, some bad until I ended up with my group of yaffers. And a LOT of hardwork later, I’m still going strong.

  28. becca puglisi August 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Wow. That’s a trip down memory lane. I remember sending out my very first manuscript to publishers without anyone having critiqued it. Very embarrassing. I remember the first crit I ever got. I remember the first critique I ever gave, and the thrill of actually having knowledge to share. The first personalized rejection letter.

    We’ve all come a long way, baby!

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

  29. Dawn Simon August 18, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    I remember some of the same things! I didn’t understand the whole revision thing, either! I think it’s important to pay attention to our progress, and embrace the journey. Nice post. 🙂

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