Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dear Reporter, What's it all about?

Rejections? Yes, rejections. All authors have them. I could wallpaper a room with mine. Seriously, I really could and I've kept everyone. 
I began writing seriously and submitting back in 2002. I submitted to publishers, I submitted to agents. Many big houses won't even look at a manuscript from an author, it has to come through an agent. Back then not too many publishers or agents accepted manscripts online, so I had to mail them.
That meant reading the submissions section carefully, printing the manuscript, and packing it (no staples) with a rubberband around it and then a trip to the postoffice.
Then the wait began. Of course, I didn't sit idly by and wait for the answer, nope, I got busy on my next story.
Let me tell you a little about my writing process. I'm what they call a panster. I write by the seat of my pants. I come up with an idea and I know how my story starts. At this point I have a pretty good idea of how I want it to end. What happens in the middle - well that's as much a surprise to me as it is to the reader. The next thing I do is fill out a character worksheet.
I want to know everything I possibly can about my character, besides just what they look like.  I need to know when they're born, what their hobbies are, do they like chidlren, pets? Where do they live, how about their family? Brothers, sisters? Faults? - Oh yes, they have to have faults. No one is perfect and neither should they be.
I even talk to them. At least, I hope they'll talk to me, because if a character doesn't speak to you, you won't get far into the book. And then I start writing. Usually, the characters lead me. They go the way they want to go and they're the ones who throw the stumbling blocks into the story. I'm not concerned at this point how it sounds or what I'm writing, I just want to get the story down on paper.
Once my story is done, I put it away - in a computer file - I also send it to myself through email. I can always retrieve my email. If my computer crashes, I can't retrieve my files. I let it sit and forget about it and move on to something else. I try to write every day, at least for fifteen minutes, sometimes much much longer. It depends on my time and how much the characters are speaking to me. Sometimes, they don't speak at all and what I write is dreck (junk). Other times, I can't stop writing and even forget to eat. I love those days. If I get stalled because they won't speak at all and at least a couple of weeks has passed, I bring out the previous manuscript and begin my revisions. This is where I begin polishing my story, making sure I'm showing, not telling. Once I go through it, I set it aside again and move on to something else. I do this several times until I believe the story is the best it can be. Sometimes I'll go through it four or five times, sometimes more. I won't submit it until I'm satisfied with it. 
I've learned a lot since I started submitting back in 2002. I read those stories now and see what I've missed and how they can be made better. I've learned how to show, not tell the story. So I'm in the process of going through all of those stories and submitting them again.
This time, I'm submitting to ebook publishers. I see this as the wave of the future. I've had much success at MuseItUp Publishing. Oh, I'm still getting rejections and have several that they've asked me to rewrite, but they've accepted several also.  You can find my books at my Muse author's page.
You can find out more about me at my website website or my blog.


Adriana said...

Ah, you pantsers! I will forever envy you. :) I have to sit down and outline my story before I begin, or it becomes a meandering, vacillating mess. It was great seeing into the process of someone who writes completely differently than me. Thanks, Roseanne! :)


gail roughton branan said...

Yep. That's how it works. Both the "intro" into publishing -- wait to be rejected, but have the next one started -- and, in my case, the pantser status. Bottom line, if you're a writer, you write. End of story.

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

i'm with you, Roseanne! I've been in a similar situation and I went that big publisher route. I have had more success with my stories and lately three of them have been accepted, though two needed rewriting. Writing is a messy business, because you are never really finished with it. Just recently I had a story that has been published for over five years be brutally critiqued by a so-called editor. She wanted me to change it too much. So I have my limits of how much of a story I will change for an editor. Especially when I'm not getting paid and the story I am changing was sold to the original publisher.

I loved your description of your process and I only wish I could be as prolific as you.:)

J.Q. Rose said...

So much easier now to just email the ms to the publisher. That postage gets expensive AND the waiting is agony. Of course the butterflies in my stomach are still there and the worry if it is accepted. Great post here. Really enjoyed reading your "process" of writing. You are doing it right, I'd say.

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