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Over the weekend, I was chatting with one of my writing buddies and was hit with a stroke of brilliance (okay, maybe not brilliance, but it IS a really good idea :P). There are tons of writing analogies out there. You know the ones, things like "writing is like driving" or "writing is like video games," stories that help us make sense of this crazy road to publishing. Here's a new one to add to your database: writing is like bowling.
The pins represent your goal. In the case of most writers, the goal is getting published. When you first start writing, you throw a lot of gutterballs. There are a lot of unfinished novels, finished novels that will never go anywhere, and short stories that weren't deemed worthy to see the light of day. As a new writer (or a new bowler), it's important to remember that gutterballs are okay. They help you grow as a writer (or bowler), and teach you how to get over those inevitable mistakes.
Crit partners are the lane bumpers. They give you the framework you need to make those spares and strikes more frequent, and keep you from getting all those embarrassing gutterballs. While playing with bumpers is often seen as cheating, keep in mind that crit partners are a necessary part of the writing process. I don't know what I'd do without mine, and I highly recommend finding a partner or small crit group if you don't have one already. :)
Every time you query, you're knocking down a pin. You might not get anything from it, and your score might not be that high at the end of the game, but it's progress. Sometimes you get lucky, and an agent will request a partial or full. You've knocked down half of the pins, or most of the pins! They might get back to you and say you're not quite what they're looking for, or you may never hear from them again. The frame is left open, but it's still progress.
On the other hand, they might decide to sign you, in which case you've scored a spare! You wrote something that was good enough to catch an agent's attention, and they want to work with you. Say thank you to your trusty bumpers and get to work on something else. :P
Then comes the day we're all waiting for. You've written an amazing manuscript. You've hooked an agent, and they've been sending your work to editors in hopes of getting a sale. You get word that an editor likes your work, and desperately wants to publish it. You've got a contract, and have finally scored the strike you've been waiting for. With any luck, you'll only go up from here. You'll score more strikes, until you've got three in a row (a turkey), or four in a row (a hambone), or even five in a row (a yahtzee)!
Perfect games are difficult to score when bowling, just like writing a string of 10 perfect books is difficult. But with hard work, dedication, and lots and lots of practice, I know we can all make it there. :) Happy Monday, and don't forget to check out my giveaway if you haven't seen it!