Monday, September 12, 2011

A Little Monday Morning Inspiration

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending an author talk featuring Aprilynne Pike. You may know her as the author of the Wings series (which I recently discovered and love), and she's local here in Arizona. She talked about her road to publication, and then opened it up to audience questions for a while.

Her road to publication was, as she put it, "a typical one." She wrote off and on for a few years, completing four and a half novels and receiving over 200 rejections before selling her first book. It was quite the story, complete with the births of three of her children, meeting Stephenie Meyer (also local), and some major ego shrinkage (her words, not mine :P). It really made me realize that even our favorite authors have had to face rejection, and some of them have had to face a lot of it. What matters is how badly you want it, and how hard you're willing to work.

I don't think I've told many people my story so far. I've been writing since the fourth grade, although I was telling stories verbally before that. I got serious about writing in high school after being inspired by Christopher Paolini. As I got older, I realized how lucky that guy is, and that he's not a very good role model for publication. I mean, for one thing, his books are blatant rip-offs of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. For another, his parents owned a small publishing company, so he got a publishing deal with no work at all.

Anyway, I slogged my way through a lot of half-finished stories throughout high school. The summer after my freshman year of college, I finally finished a novel. It was the best that I could do at the time, and I proudly shared it with my family and friends. They cheered me on, of course, telling me that it was awesome and that I totally had a future as an author. Looking back on that first draft, I can recognize that it was terrible, and that my best now is a heck of a lot better than my best then. The manuscript I'm currently working on is a new version of that book, but with lots more plot and character development and a few fresh takes.

I used to still worry that I'm not talented enough to be an author. I think the best piece of writerly inspiration Aprilynne gave was this: being a writer is more about work than it is about talent. If you are willing to put in the time and effort to make your writing shine, someone will recognize that and cut you a break. If you're not, maybe you need to reevaluate your career goals.

I'm setting a new goal for myself in terms of my writing. I want to write 80,000 words (a completed manuscript for my current WIP) by the end of the year. Which means that if I haven't posted DONE on the first of January, you have my permission to ceaselessly berate me until I finish. I want to start querying agents next year, but to do that, I need to get my behind in gear and finish this thing. I've done a draft in three months before, so I'm confident I can do it again.

Anyone want to join me? What are your writing goals for the rest of the year?



  1. I set a deadline to finish my first draft before 11/1/11 - i.e. before Nanowrimo begins (when I will write a whole new novel). I've been dragging my feet long enough and want to actually finish something worth selling. It's still a major struggle, but I'm getting there.

    Good luck! With the wedding I know you're going to need it. XD

  2. It's always nice to know that a successful author suffered my same pangs. My goal is to finish editing my WIP before the end of the year to the point where it shines and my critique parter doesn't try to rip me a new one. :)

  3. Like Skye, I wanted to finish the rewritten-from-scratch draft of my novel by the end of October so that I could do something new for Nanowrimo. But as of now I'm still finishing up my summer short story goals, so it's going to be interesting...

    Best of luck with your goals!

  4. I didn't realize you were in Arizona. Moving back to Flagstaff as soon as this house sells.

    Goals? Hope to have this first draft done by the end of the year. I'm at 25K right now. Happy to cheer you on!

  5. I set a goal to finish my current wip by the end of October, but I'm cautiously optimistic that it will be done before that :-)

  6. How cool that you were able to meet Ms. Pike! My goal is to finish the new WIP by November. We'll see. :P

  7. And yet, how many of us are going to go buy his last book when it comes out in November? -raises hand- Come on, be honest.

    I want to finish my rewrite before October, because then I will completely focused on planning for NaNo (I plan to write two novels this year). If I don't it'll just have to get put to the side.

  8. We sound a lot alike. Started writing down my stories in fifth grade, thought about it as a career in junior high. My family wasn't exactly supportive though until I'd had some short pieces published in the college journals and online. It's great you had cheerleaders.

    As for the rest of the year, I have a whole lot of rewriting to get done. I'm currently stuck on chapter 11. However, I'm serially publishing this one to drive traffic to my store, a bit each week. And I'm already up to the first third of chapter 4. I HAVE to get a move on or look like a jerk.

  9. I was just about to say this! Talent is a useless concept for writers. DO NOT worry about it. What a lot of people see as talent I see as hard work. It's no mistake that the "talented" people are the people who spend backbreaking amounts of time on their work, because they're willing to polish and polish and polish and revise revise revise. If you're willing to do this, then that's a talent already, because not everyone is, and honestly it's all the talent you need. I really, truly believe that.

    My goals aren't word count or achievement related - I just want to incorporate writing into my life so that I have a routine I'm adhering to. That's it. I'm having a hard time pulling it off though. ;p

  10. Haha goals are definitely better than deadlines. What was it Douglas Adams said? "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." Yeah, that's me. But I'm TRYING to make a goal of finishing the edits on my manuscript and have it in the hands of my agent by October 31st. But I may not make it. Good luck with your January 1st goal!

  11. I tried reading Eragon and was really disappointed in the book and didn't make it more than a quarter of the way through it. So yeah...I agree with you on your assessment of Paolini.

    As far as fantasy goes...the best fantasy writer living today is in my opinion George R.R. Martin but I've got some very strong feelings about Mr. Martin. There's part of me that loves him to death but another part of me that really hates the reader abuse and the fact that I think he's a sellout.

    You will make it as a writer. I believe it. You just need to decide on what kind of writer you want to be.

  12. Thanks for all the support, everyone! Lots of you are trying to finish before NaNo, and I'm totally sure that you'll all make it! Here's to the rest of this year, and accomplishing our goals! :)


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