My Initial Writing Challenge
After my previous posts I thought I might be able to provide an almost flow-on effect by describing the writing challenge facing me and how tenacious I had to be at the beginning of my third act, or my writing career. Getting my first romance story published was not an easy task. I needed to hold tight to the belief that I’d written a great story deserving of publication.
I acknowledge I have been one of the most fortunate writers because my very first book “Worlds Apart” was published. But it was a struggle and I only continued to persevere because my mentor and friend, Loree Lough, had suggested to me years before that it was good enough to get published.
Now remember this was happening during an era before emailed submissions were accepted by most publishers. The fact I live on the opposite side of the world from the publishing houses added to the ‘wasted’ time. Worlds Apart was finished in 2001. I spent over 4 years submitting proposals, followed by 3 chapters, then full ms to publishers via snail mail, taking up to about 12-15 months each time. Mills & Boon in London said they liked it but suggested it was more suited for Superromance in Toronto, then Superromance suggested I send it to M&B in London. Phew, talk about a merry-go-round.
M&B then kindly suggested they would consider it if I cut 15-20,000 words – very annoying as I’d just attended a conference where M&B representatives stressed word counts no longer governed acceptance. I was a little miffed, I have to say.
I decided to keep trying elsewhere rather than butcher what I thought was a great story. Treble Heart Books was at the Romance Writers of NZ conference (I think in 2006) and after a pitch I received a contract with them. After almost two years of nothing happening beyond a cursory edit, I was offered a release from that contract because the editor/owner had suffered a heart attack and had got so far behind in honouring all the contracts.Back to square one.
But surely being able to state in a covering letter that I’d been issued a contract for this story (and been released through no fault of my own) would give me a toe in the door with other publishers and lift me out of the slush pile? Nah, not really.
At our conference in 2008 I pitched to a representative from The Wild Rose Press who contracted my story. After months of working with my lovely editor – who made the courageous suggestion to change spelling and idioms when we changed POV characters (a suggestion she has willingly repeated in my latest release Worlds Collide) “Worlds Apart” finally hit the world in May 2010.
Highlighting some of what happened during this road to publication now, I can hardly believe how long it took. But the time was not wasted. I wrote two more stories and did a huge amount of honing the craft of writing. By the time my first contemporary romance was published, I felt I could honestly call myself a writer. I believe I’d spent the time wisely. Its so much easier to notice small grammatical errors etc while I’m crafting a story now. While my writing challenges me and always will, with every new book I submit, the ‘errors’ picked up by my editor appear to be decreasing. I think that confirms I can indeed now call myself a writer.
As always, I say to any budding writers, don’t give up on your dream. Accept the writing challenges that come your way. Write, read, learn and write some more. Every time you sit at a keyboard and allow your thoughts to flow, you are continuing to hone this fine craft of ours. Stick to it.