Thursday, October 14, 2010

Full Circle

For those of you not currently agonizing over it, we're turning off our electronic devices and returning our seatbacks to their original, uncomfortable positions as we prepare for our descent into NaNoWriMo 2010. So, "once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more", for National Novel Writing Month is upon us.

Which brings certain thing full circle for me. Late last year, I quit my job. I knew when I quit that I wouldn't be able to get the same kind of job, which I very much liked, for at least five months. The economy was still bad and still uncertain, and the job is not common in this part of the country. So I had some time.

I had plans, big plans. I would work out daily. I would change out our ugly, brass light fixtures for brushed steel. I'd paint the master bedroom and caulk the bathrooms. And then, one night, I sat down and started writing a story, something I'd done since I was a kid, but only "when I had time". I kept writing. And then I found out about NaNoWriMo and thought, hell, I've got time. I'll try to write 50,000 words of a novel.

I did caulk a toilet and a sink.

My NaNoWriMo novel clocked in around 95,000 words. I was in love with finishing a novel. In the middle of the night, I'd wake up and smile at the fact that I had written a book. I adored my main character. I marveled at the plot. It was fresh and bright and shiny and I was pretty sure that nobody had ever written anything like it.

I spent two months editing. I sent my manuscript to two readers and assumed the Thinker pose when I read their comments. I discovered the strange little beast known as "the query". I happened upon a godforsaken piece of crap called "the synopsis". Having read a few books in my day, I knew that authors had agents and that the agents were beautiful, generous, helpful creatures that said authors thanked profusely in the first few pages of their books. I knew that books were published by mighty, esteemed publishing houses that most certainly were not in financial turmoil, because everybody needs lots of books, right?

I decided to get an agent. (Please hold your laughter until the end.)

I spent a week researching agents, hopping from informative websites to agency websites to blogs. I built a spreadsheet of sixty agents currently accepting queries in my genre, all of whom had recent sales and none of whom charged their clients up-front fees. (That last is actually important: write it down)

I sent out my first batch of queries, a blinking, huddled gaggle of five.

And I waited. What have you been doing since your last NaNo? What have you been doing instead of WriMo?

Listening to: Arcade Fire - Neon Bible


  1. Great post. I love to read about how someone broke through from feverishly NaNo-ing to success with agents and/or editors.

  2. Oh my, oh my. Hillary, this sounds a lot like my own story. NaNo 2009 was my second year, but it was the first time I returned to edit my novel. It took me five months, and toward the end I stumbled upon Nathan's blog (oh yes, it all started because of his love of orange).

    For various reasons, I abandonned my WiP, but today I have two more prepared, and I intend to stick with them. It's awesome to learn you already have an agent! :)

    Also - Arcade Fire: Win.

  3. I didn't do Nano... missed it, but I had my own personal Nano in January of this year (New Years Rez..will write a novel!!) I finished the first draft in April and finished the final draft(ha ha final draft!) in Sept. Now I've sent 26 query letters out there (3 requests so far!)

    I have my outline and my first 4000 words of my Nano novel written... we will see!

  4. mdal, this is the kind of stuff that was like crack on the page (or screen, as it were) for me when I first contemplated aiming for publication.

    Claudie, love that you were able to move forward even if a WIP didn't work out. That's the trick! Arcade Fire = Win = I concur.

    Lela, your own personal NaNo might be more impressive, because all the motivation comes from within. And yes, final draft *is* an oxymoron.

  5. Aah, my problem is not abandoning WIP. It's sticking to them. By the time I gave up on my last NaNo, I had three more possible novels dancing in my head. ^^