On Mulling (not the cider kind)

So I’ve finished three books.* One of them is sitting patiently waiting for revisions, one is currently on the operating table, and one is out in the world. Still. (Is the Bermuda Triangle located in lower Manhattan? Because it’s entirely possible my MS has been sucked into the vortex). Anyway, the question, for me, anyway, is now what?*scratches head and stares into the distance*

Do I start another book? Push hard on querying until I have an agent? Not even think about revising book three until I’ve officially finished with book one, one way or another? I have no real clue.

I have no idea.

I have gotten some really great feedback on SWIM, the young adult paranormal about a mer girl and her summer of falling in love with a human. Enough that I figured I was right about here:

On the other hand, I’ve had some pretty soul-crushing feedback as well. Enough so that I’m feeling this is a better option:

And then I’ve been told there’s no way to sell mermaids in this market, they’re done to death (unlike vampires that are done to undeath. Bwahahahhahahaha. Sorry). So then I think I should just move on and try to query the next one.

In short: mull mull mull. I’m mulling over all of this stuff.

It’s kind of easy to get frozen in this mulling stage. And that’s not really helpful, no matter what I decide.

Then I read a blog post by another YA author Natalie Whipple. She wrote a post about “10 Things I Would Have Done Differently” in her publishing journey (her first book Transparent, is coming out in 2013). While I encourage you to click on the link and read the post, some of her wishes were as follows:

1. I wish I didn’t query so soon. While I learned a lot from querying four novels, I also think I caused myself more pain and rejection than necessary. The thing is, deep down I knew my work wasn’t really ready, but I’d hoped to get in anyway. I was being lazy, trying to do as little as possible.
2. I wish I didn’t spend so much time online. I have made great connections and learned a TON from being part of the online community, but at the same time it distracted me from the most important aspect of being a writer—writing. I did it the wrong way. I networked first, focused on my writing second. It should be the other way around.
3. I wish I hadn’t cared so much about getting published. That probably sounds weird, but it’s one of my biggest regrets. I spent more time trying to be a Published Author than trying to be a Good Writer. It was only when I put being a Good Writer first that the whole Published Author part followed.
4. I wish I’d spent more time studying the craft. I used to think my natural talent would get me through the gate. I would write stories without much thought to if the plot worked or not, if the characters were real or not, if the world made sense or not. I feel like I squandered my talent for a long time because I relied solely on talent instead of pushing myself to get better.
5. I wish I took editing seriously. I spent way too long doing edits that did not cut it. Sadly, it wasn’t until my 8th book that I really learned how to revise. Before that, I would do as little as humanly possible to satisfy my crit partners’ concerns. I never made big enough changes, never believed I NEEDED to make bigger changes. It was only when I really dug in, saw my story as malleable, that I truly improved.
6. I wish I didn’t follow publishing news so closely. Learning about major deals and tours and cover reveals and all that only made me antsy and frustrated. I could have used my time obsessing over those things to write a stellar book. Or five. And I would have had more confidence to do it, too.
7. I wish I spent more time living and less time waiting. Sitting around refreshing my inbox got me nowhere. It sounds harsh, but I wasted a lot of time letting The Wait torture me. I could have been living, doing new things, gaining experiences that would create new stories for me to write. Writing, while it is a lot of work, also requires inspiration, and I let myself get low on that.

She continues, but I think the kernel of wisdom is right there for me. Spend less time waiting and more time living. Focus on the craft. And don’t worry about getting published.

So I still don’t know what I’m going to do next. There is a traffic jam of ideas waiting to get out of my head. There are three books I’m really proud of waiting to get edited and polished and cleaned up some more. There are always more stories to be told.

Hopefully, I’ll get to tell them all.

But in the meantime the days are getting longer and there are adventures to have outside with Small Daughter and Large Son. So my plan is to keep writing, keep revising, and not waste too much time waiting. Because no matter what the destination, it’s always worth making the journey as wonderful as possible.

 

 

*by three books I mean three books that are worthy of the MBs they’re stored on, as opposed to whatever brain droppings may have come before.

 

 

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