It’s a Writer Thing

Probably the biggest experiment, or at least the one that’s lasted the longest for me, is writing. I’ve written for as long as I can remember. Middle school is when it started.
Several years ago I wanted to step up the game. The challenge was to write a novel. The only true way to know if you can write one is to write one. The only sure way to find out what your personal novel-writing process is is to experiment. I quickly learned, for example, that I’m incapable of writing to an outline.
When I finished the book, The Lake Effect, I was immensely proud of it. But it didn’t take long once I started researching publication to find out that it wasn’t publishable. I blame (or rather credit) this place for educating me about what a “trunk novel” is and that The Lake Effect, sadly, was one of them. (R.I.P. trunk novel).
Failed experiment? Not by a long shot. After all the goal was to write a book and I certainly had done that. I never said the goal was to write a good book. So I did what any writer does, I wrote another one.
Taking Lessons from Ernest was born. I loved that book (still do). It was edited, read by betas, edited, restructured, edited, read by more betas. One big ongoing experiment in how to write a GOOD book. Example: I’ve written no less than six chapter ones for Ernest.
Next mini-experiment in the big scheme of writing: query letters. Mine was horrible. That first query letter is probably the first major fail of this whole writing thing. The Lake Effect at least proved to me that I could write novels. But queries? Didn’t prove a damn thing except that I was no good at query letters. Version after version, rejection after rejection, I hit sixty rejections and decided to give Ernest and my bruised pride a break.
For a while I focused on poetry and short stories, I collaborated on a very fun writing experiment with Kevin Craig on Yours, Mine…Ours . I started yet another novel which began as a two paragraph snip of a story and expanded (thanks to June Kramin ) in a game of Word Wars. That one needs a re-write and a heavy editing hand, but it has to marinate for a while first so I put it away. In the meantime I went back to dear old Ernest, gave him another read, gave him a subplot. Got more beta reads, line edits, new query! *whew* Started the agent search again and started sending it back into the agent-y world. More rejections. Then two agents asked to read the book. *grins*
So the experiments go on. Some wins, some failures, and while pieces of this big experiment can be tagged with success or failure, as a whole “done and won” will never happen. Even if I were to get published, the experience of each new book I write, the experience of generating more complex and challenging plots and characters, the thrill of finding new ways to use words will always be there.
Eventually I may wear out Ernest again, when/if that time comes, I’ll have another book to query. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” In writing, I’ve made a lot and probably always will. On a lighter note, I would say this experiment for Experimental Stew needs a pretty heavy emphasis on the “mental”. My writer friends will agree. Writers are MENTAL – it’s a writer thing.

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2 responses to “It’s a Writer Thing

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