I’m not a bestselling author, or even a selling author. However, I often hear people say they want to write a book but don’t know how to. As someone who’s book has yet to be accepted by a literary agent, I don’t want to claim to be an expert, but I can honestly say that my writing has improved greatly since I started writing creatively when I was eleven. That isn’t saying much, but my point is that skill comes with practice.
I once submitted the first ten pages of my book to an online “boot camp” hosted by Writer’s Digest. For a $200 fee, a literary agent would review the first ten pages of your book and provide personalized feedback. After one generic rejection letter after another e.g. “Than you for sending us your query but it isn’t right for us”, I was very eager to get real feedback on my writing. One of the biggest criticisms I received was that my story was mostly dialogue and narrative, there was little done in the way of painting a scene and building a world. Friends, and even some agents who have read it since now say that the imagery and the world building is one of the things that stood out most about the book. That is not to say that I am spellbinding, but it is a clear indicator of improvement.
When I was in grade five, an English teacher suggested that I should write a book. My mom agreed and I wrote my first novella in grade eight. It was a pretty horrible piece called Camp Escapade that only my mom and another English teacher read. However, it sparked my interest in writing and led me to pursue writing as a career. Camp Escapade also gave me early experience with the process of querying agents and trying to promote myself. I went through a period where I continuously rewrote Camp Escapade. There were long periods where I didn’t write at all since I didn’t value consistent creative output at the time.
When I was in grade eleven I started writing again, using my history classes as inspiration for a story of alien slavery. I wrote my first draft of Elseworld by the time I graduated and had the naïve idea that I would be published by the time I graduated university. During this stage, I started to realize how bleak the prospect of getting published was. I started to look up publishing statistics, and realized that it was almost a pipe dream. Yet I didn’t want to quite.
The most recent draft of Elseworld, which I finished last year, is far superior to the first. It taught me what hard work and patience could lead to. I may have had an air of entitlement concerning my first work -maybe some of it still lingers- but I was now committed to become published. I no longer cared if it didn’t happen with my preset timeline. I always wanted to set a goal for myself but I realized that I didn’t want to quit if my goal didn’t materialize.