Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

photo courtesy of freephoto.com

This February will be the four-year anniversary of when I started my novel.  Yes, you read it right: 4 years.  No, I'm not kidding.

At that time back in 2007, I was just starting to write again after nearly a decade's hiatus.  A fiction writing course in college discouraged me so much that I quit  completely. I finished college, went to grad school, threw myself into my career, met my husband, got married, and had a baby.  It wasn't until my son was about two that I started to think about writing again.  But the thought scared me so much I didn't even want to try.  The only way I could convince myself to pick up a pen again was to promise myself that I was just doing this for my own enjoyment and no one would ever, ever have to read it but me.

That first, slow draft was truly awful. But the past four years of blogging, reading and learning have gradually improved my understanding and skill.  Now I'm seriously thinking of submitting my pitch to the Amazon Breakout Novel contest this month. I never would have imagined myself trying it four years ago.  I have no expectation of winning, but the deadline is what counts. I think I can be done in time if I push myself.

Some superior literary types are shocked that I have been working on the same book for so long.  They screw up their faces and study me like an embodiment of literary incompetence, then say "But you're going to finish it soon, right?  Don't you want to work on something else?" 

Well, no. I don't want to work on something else until I'm satisfied with this one.  Conventional wisdom says that you have to write at least three books before you can consider yourself a real writer, so many people dash off those three books just to be done with them.  But that means that they are basically "throwaways."  Why bother?  What I've chosen to do instead, is write this novel over three times. (Or is really 2.5?  or 4? I've gone back to the beginning so many times I've lost count.)

Each time it gets a little better. Each time I get closer to feeling that I really know what I'm doing. And that it might, in fact, be publishable. Even if I publish it myself. Enough people seem to have enjoyed the bits I've given them to read that I have the confidence to share it in its entirety.

And that, my friends, is definitely worth a four-year investment of my time and energy!  Of course, I never would have come this far without all of YOU encouraging me along the way.

So, to celebrate my 4th anniversary, I am announcing the
"You've Come A Long Way, Baby, Contest/Blogfest." 
Here's how it works, kind of the standard contest thing:

1. Post in the comments that you want to participate in the contest, and become a follower.  That's easy, right?
2. Sign up in the Mr. Linky thingy if you want to also participate in the blogfest.

You get:
+1 entry for being a follower by Saturday, Feb. 5th.
+1 for promoting the contest on your blog
+1 each for tweeting or posting on FB
+2 entries if you put up a sample of your own early-in-my-learning-process, sort-of-awful-but-I-don't-mind-embarassing-myself writing.
+1 more for a rewrite of it, showing your improved skills.

The prizes... I haven't figured out yet, but I'll come up with something good, I promise!  I know Starbuck's will probably figure into it somehow, and chocolate, of course, and maybe even a subscription to the "Bookmark of the Month Club." (Okay, I don't know if there is a "Bookmark of the Month Club" but there should be.)

So, sign up now! I hope you will share a little in the comments about your own writing journey. I look forward to reading about it, and your writing samples, and promise to post my own on Feb. 5th.

You've Come A Long Way Baby Blogfest/Contest
 Saturday, Feb. 5th"

p.s. I have no idea why Mr. Linky looks so wierd, but the links appear to be working despite the red X's.


  1. Hi! I saw your post in the Poetry Pact on FB. Glad to discover another beautiful writer blog! I love hearing someone else say they have been working on one WiP for several years. Makes me feel better about my own journey. Transitioning from a short fiction author to a novelist has been challenging, and I'm going on year #2 with my first go-around. Wishing you luck with your project! Happy to help you celebrate 4 yrs with it!

  2. Thanks, Nicole!!! How exciting to be working on your first book. What's it about?

  3. and i think i've known you for almost 4 years. wow. i'll think about participating if i have the time. i'm glad you decided to stick it out and i'm glad you're putting it in the Amazon contest.

  4. I think it's great you take your time in your writing. Everyone has their own personal time table, what matters is that you're doing it, especially after having that bad experience with your writing class. Great contest! I might come back and post some of my bad work later.

  5. I am so happy to hear that you're entering the Amazon contest. It's a huge step in the right direction. Good luck!

  6. Congratulations on your perseverance, good lady! That's quite the journey, I must say.

    I'm more'n happy to join you in celebrating this. I've already posted most of my early flash fiction efforts on my blog, but maybe if I dig back far enough, I can find some of my high-school writings. THAT'd be a blast from the past, for sure!

    See you this weekend! :D

  7. Wow, nice job with sticking with it!!!! I agree that we don't often take the time to evaluate how far we've come from our "early" writing days. This blogfest will highlight that, for sure!

  8. What an awesome Blogfest! I'm totally in and I love hearing about other people's journeys as writers. It's one of my favorite parts of writing, that you never quite reach where you're going, and yet you keep traveling.

    Where should we post our how-I-started-out-can't-believe-I-wrote-like-that samples? Our own blogs? I'm all for a little embarrassment when it's also amusing :)

  9. Hi Artemis,
    Post your entry on your own blog on Feb. 5th. I will put up a new post soon with the prizes and the Linky so that it's easier for people to find.

    I can't wait to read everyone's posts!

  10. now i just have to remember to post something. :P

  11. I'm in! Actually, this year in November will be the 4 year mark from my YA novel I'm trying to get ready for beta readers right now. I started it for nanowrimo 2007, but didn't finish the very short first draft until 2009.

    I could even post from that novel. This will be fun!

  12. I found your blog through Laura Diamond and thought I'd hop over to see what was going on.
    What a great idea. :)
    You should be proud that you stuck with the novel for so long!

  13. Hi Dawn! I'm glad to know I'm not alone. Keep plugging away. We can do it.

    Ciara, thanks so much for stopping by and for the encouragement. I'm glad you like the contest! You're in.

  14. I popped over from lbdiamond's blog.

    Christine, you're not the only one who takes her sweet time (often not by choice) to finish a novel. Even when I'm not writing, I still try to learn/hone my craft which only makes those long-term novels that much better.

    Congrats on finding your writing groove and finding confidence to share your novel.

  15. Hi Writesbymoonlight... thanks for coming by!

  16. I'm in, I'm in! *dusts off old notebook* *coughs*

  17. I'm in. Holy Sh*t! It will be so funny - page 1 of NEAR EDGWARE hasn't seen the light of day since 300 people commented on it on Nathan Bransford's Agent for a day. That was a "learn and learn fast" experience. :)

  18. 1 for being a follower
    1 for posting on my blog
    1 for posting on FB
    3 for putting up an old version and a rewrite on my blog

    Can't wait to see everyone else's posts!

  19. Hi Christine. I just discovered this by happenstance. SO I'm rushing a la Harrison Ford in Indian Jones... to get my entry in on time. ;-) Excellent idea for a blogfest.

    I'm in. Cya tomorrow

  20. Hi Christopher... I'll look for your entry!


I apologize for the word verification. I hate it, but the spammers made me do it.