Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ignorance is Bliss (Or How I Found the Write Path)

Today I'm excited to be helping out with an exciting project. Carrie Butler, a great writer I only met through this challenge, is looking for compilations for an e-book. The book, which will be free, is set to inspire new writers on their road to publication. The assignment is to write a letter to the younger versions of ourselves when we first started trying to get published. So here's my entry!



Dear Know-It-All:

Stop. Don't send that manuscript. I know you're all proud of yourself because you wrote three books in a couple of months, but you'll soon learn about a thing called revising. You need to read over that manuscript and make sure it's perfect before you send it to an acquiring editor.

Of course, you won't listen. You're so enthusiastic and excited, you're sure an editor will take one look and sign you immediately. Never mind that you don't even know what happens when an editor signs you. You figure you'll learn those things as you go.

You have a long way to go, but perhaps it's best you don't know that. Soon you'll not only join a writer's group, you'll be instrumental in creating it--the first-ever Nashville chapter of Romance Writers of America. You'll meet some incredible people, including some famous novelists. They'll teach you how to handle booksignings and speaking engagements and survive rejection after rejection after rejection.

Interestingly, though, your career will come full-circle before you publish. It's 1995 and there's no market at all for young adult fiction. Middle grade is practically non-existent. You'll have to wait for someone named J.K. Rowling to come along and change everything. Don't bother saving those two young adult manuscripts you wrote last month, though. They're each about as good as any book would be that was created in only a couple of weeks.

The best advice you'll ever hear is that you should always have more than one iron in the fire while querying publishers and agents. That advice will help you through many rejections.

Meanwhile, enjoy the journey. You'll look back on every step of it someday with great fondness. To paraphrase a future crazy teen pop star: It doesn't matter how fast you get there--it's all about the climb.

Name: Stephanie Faris
Title: Ignorance is Bliss

Link: http://www.stephaniefaris.com
I give permission to use this entry in the e-book compilation.

72 comments:

  1. Stephanie this was incredible... I have been working on a book for 6-8 months. I need to spend more time on it. I have a lot ti learn and I'll take any ideas people have. I know nothing that way ;-) ... Really great post ♡

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  2. Thank you, Launna! I hope it can help someone. Writer's communities are great--although a lot of it is done online these days. There's something about the face-to-face interaction...but writer's groups can be very clique-y and I've found newcomers tend to sometimes have a hard time finding a place.

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  3. Loving your advice and especially about enjoying the journey.

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  4. I once translated a book of a writer who took 30 years to finish it :) He is a possible candidate for Nobel Prize....

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  5. Love this! The "Dear Know It All" part cracked me up. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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  6. sounds like you have a lot of wisdom to impart - as to whether they'll listen... :)

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  7. All great advice for a young writer. And yes, enjoying the journey is the most important part for me!

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  8. I agree with everything--writing too fast and not revising enough--JK Rowling changing kidlit. When I was a kid, I devoured books. When I exhausted the good ones at my library, I switched to YA. That was a pathetically small section. By the time I was an early teen, I moved to adult books. So much better now.

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  9. Teens are lucky now. Teen books when I was a kid were Sweet Valley High--syrupy sweet. Everyone said, "Kids read up," so it was understood YA was read by tweens. At 16, I'd moved onto Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz. They were great, but I would have loved some of the YA books that are available today.

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  10. Stephanie, thanks so much for posting this!

    Now I've got to sit right down and write my younger self a letter. Not that he'll listen to me, of course...

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  11. Go for it, Rob K! It's going to be a great book.

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  12. Ah- love this! Words of wisdom~

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  13. I think it is the never ending rejection from even trying. Great advice found here.

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  14. That's some very excellent advice! I always wanted to be in an RWA group, but didn't have any chapters close by, and unlike you, I never thought to start one! You are a go-getter!

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  15. Wow, we DO have a lot of common advice, huh? I'm just starting to read everyone's entries, but you're right; we are a bunch of excited, impatient young people, LOL ;) And the 'Dear Know-It-All' is priceless!

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  16. First thing...Dang girl! You write fast! Second...I love the personality in your letter. Sometimes our younger selves can be so stubborn, but they will do what they will. I suppose if they didn't, we might not be where we are today.

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  17. Elizabeth, at the time my mom was a member of the Missouri RWA chapter and I was astonished that Nashville didn't have one. I worked in public relations, so I knew how to write a press release and where to send it. I sent a release out to all the major papers asking for people who were interested in starting a romance writers group to contact me. At the same time, a girl named Shannon had contacted RWA about starting a chapter. Someone knew about that and told her she needed to connect with me, since I had a list of people who were interested in joining. We had about 5-10 people in those early meetings...I think the Nashville chapter has more than 100 members now!

    Loni, I wrote fast before I knew better! Although I write about 2,000-3,000 words a day for my freelance writing clients. If a publisher would publish all the books I could write in a year, I'd drop the freelance and write fiction...I'd love that!

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  18. Enjoy the journey. That's one thing I hear so many writers, just don't do. Personally speaking, I love the writing process. Tons of fun.

    Cheers and boogie boogie.

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  19. It's definitely good advice to have more than one iron in the fire. The wait can be unbearable if you don't!

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  20. Have to keep on many projects and take ones time indeed

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  21. Great letter Stephanie! We could all use such advice from our current writer self to the one of the past. I appreciate your wisdom about not rushing things and about knowing that the moment will come that is right for your market.

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  22. Great letter Stephanie! We could all use such advice from our current writer self to the one of the past. I appreciate your wisdom about not rushing things and about knowing that the moment will come that is right for your market.

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  23. Great post! Aren't we all just a little over excited when we first start writing? Somehow I wish I could have kept some of that enthusiasm :)

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  24. I can't wait until this comes out-I'm a brand new writer (really haven't even started the writing part yet, lol), and I have NO idea what I'm doing :p

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  25. Great post! I admire your early confidence. Too bad we can't become older and wiser while still holding on to that devil-may-care attitude.

    I'd love to have rejections bounce off me like teflon.

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  26. Oh my...do you remember those days? Before the YA explosion? That seems like forever ago. I guess it was only 20 years. *gasp* So glad things changed.

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  27. What an inspiring letter to yourself. It is hopeful and just telling your younger self to reread and be patient and never let rejection get in the way. I have read others and yours is quite upbeat and positive

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  28. The key to writing is revising, it seems. That's awesome you created your writers' group!

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  29. Yes, so true. I have a complete manuscript that I've been revising for months.

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  30. OH, this is great! What a funny, wise letter to yourself. I'm glad you had the humility to learn and grow, and I'm sure your many readers are, too!

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  31. Stephanie, I LOVED your letter to your younger self--so great and so inspiring! That first part was me a few months ago. So excited to have finished my first novel, so impatient to get it "out there". It wasn't ready when I sent it to my first agent (at her request). No wonder she rejected it! I feel like I've learned so much in the last year, and yet, I still have so much to learn. This is an amazing journey and I feel blessed to have people like you to inspire and encourage me! Thanks!

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  32. Glad I can help in any way, Kristin! I don't really think of myself as inspiring in any way!!! I think we always think of ourselves as "just trying to figure it all out."

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  33. Sounds like it's been quite a journey for you!

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  34. What an uphill journey! Reading everyone's letters to self makes me realize no one has it easy. I'm so glad I'm not alone!

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  35. Stephanie,

    You covered it nicely. We all think we're know-it-alls when we start out.

    Sunni
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

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  36. We each have our own speed, pre-programmed for moving through life and for writing. Good luck to you and all those who contribute to such a great effort.

    Thanks for stopping by the WEP post!

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  37. That's great advice to yourself :)

    I ought to write a letter to younger me, if only to show myself how far I've come for those days when it feels like I'm hitting my head against a brick wall...

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  38. Timing is everything, eh? Sounds like you started writing YA at just the right time. Which means we should all write what we love, because by the time we're ready to publish, it might just be "in".

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  39. I completely barfed all over myself with my first submission, and spent a lot of years pandering my own emotions instead of really learning the business and craft of writing.

    Decades later, I'm closer, more patient and as you encourage, enjoying the journey more than ever.

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  40. Love this! Readers today are just so darn lucky. Enjoy the journey. Truer words were never spoken.

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  41. "of course you won't listen" was that written for me because that was me last year! great letter, girl!

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  42. Oh, I love this advice. I would have to tell me to start writing! I'd love to have had all those years go to both reading and writing instead of of only reading.

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  43. What a neat idea; it is interesting to look book and see where we were at a particular age and how much we've gone over the years and perhaps might have done things differently.

    betty

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  44. This is a great idea. Yes, the journey, that's key. So much to learn and yet it's important not to lose the thrill of it.

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  45. Absolutely spot-on advice. I'm loving all the posts in this series!

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  46. Some great advice here Stephanie. You are so right about enjoying the journey. The journey on any path is always half of the fun of arriving at the destination :)

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  47. Glad that Rowling lady came along.

    Especially loved your advice to have more than one project going so the rejection (and waiting!) is easier to handle.

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  48. Loved the salutation! Your whole letter was very blunt yet inspiring at the same time.

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  49. In 1995 there was no market for Young Adult? Interesting. It's kind of like how J.R.R. Tolkien invented the genre of epic fantasy.

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  50. Mark--There was a bit of a dry spell. The 80s had a lot of series...as in, a book packager or publishing imprint would publish a million books and have different authors create them. There were also a lot of Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew-type series. As the 80s ended and 90s began, the industry seemed to kind of pause... The Goosebumps series did really well..but it was weird. You had to go to a book packager to write a series for a while there. When I read in a book (no internet, so that was all we had!) that there was no market for young adult fiction, I gave up and moved to category romance...

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  51. Hahaha oh yes... that stage when enthusiasm out-weighs common sense.

    It's always great to look back at how far we've come. I'm looking forward to writing mine tomorrow. :-)

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  52. It's a great idea and some good advices here. I'm sure it's really difficult to write a book and it takes a lot of time too.

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  53. Awesome letter! That's cool that you started that chapter in Nashville! Not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I'm from there. Went to Chattanooga for college and let me tell you: I miss Nashville!

    Sam
    Writing Through College

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  54. Very good advice. As a photographer, before I do the final shoot I am always revising my work. Even my proudest shoot has mistakes. I agree you have to enjoy the journey but always understand that nothing is perfect.

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  55. Don't we all have that kind of attitude when we're young and just starting out? I seriously believed I'd be a published writer by 15, and rich and famous by 18. A book that's worth it will take a long time to get written. Even if the first draft is written fairly quickly, you still have to factor in polishing and revising it.

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  56. Best advice of all: Enjoy the journey. I only wish I'd started sooner because it's a great trip.

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  57. Wise words! Cool you helped establish the Romance Writers group in Nashville.
    You've visited me a couple times - are you following me and I'm not following back? Because I'd feel really crappy if that were the case...

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  58. Oh, my! Yes. I also had similar experience about sending off the first ms I wrote...*cringe*

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  59. J.K. Rowling really did pave the way, didn't she?! Revisions, revisions... oh how they do take FOREVER. But in the meantime, as long as we keep writing and stay true to our heart, all of the revising is worth it. Because in the end, we truly do hope for a masterpiece.

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  60. You are very wise Stephanie.

    Like anything else, becoming proficient in a craft takes time. There are no shortcuts. Enjoying the trip (for the most part) is a must.

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  61. Great letter. I also wrote in haste.

    Most of my manuscripts were YA and NA because of the main characters, but at the time I didn't know it.

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  62. I really love the title of this piece. It's amazing how many things we don't know when we start writing a book!

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  63. It's funny how many people think this process is so simple when they are first starting out! I definitely made that mistake too!

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  64. I never wrote a book in a couple of weeks. Not even a bad one ;-)

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  66. Stephanie- What a great letter! I agree that we could all use more revisions on our manuscripts before submitting (especially way back when we first finished and felt like we revised- but we still had so much more work to do). ;)

    I often think about the fact that it was good that I didn't know about the length of this journey and how much work it would be before I started. I might have been too scared!

    Thanks for sharing. :)

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  67. I laughed so hard when I read, "To paraphrase a future crazy teen pop star..." Too funny! :) Thank you for participating, Stephanie!

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  68. Ah, REVISING. Like writing, I can't do it enough. In fact, I don't think I ever submitted (or posted) anything before I had written at least 5 drafts. Once it's finally "done", I feel like I've just given birth to a hippo and need a very lonnnnng rest!

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  69. Persistence is every writer's middle name. Thick-skinned, too. :-) Great letter. I would've liked to have submitted one. That's what I get for being late about everything these days. Reading your letter makes me realize how far I've fallen off the writer's wagon. It's time for me to do something about that. Thanks, Stephanie.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

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  70. That's a great letter! Ooh, you started the Nashville chapter? They don't have one in Montreal, so I was thinking of starting one there, but didn't even know the first step to take!

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  71. That's a great letter! Ooh, you started the Nashville chapter? They don't have one in Montreal, so I was thinking of starting one there, but didn't even know the first step to take!

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