I wrote the first words of my first and current novel around ten years ago. Yes, that's right, ten years! Here follows my journey:
One evening I was helping my daughter revise some work for her English Literature degree. I use the word 'helping' loosely! This is the conversation we had, and the start of my obsession with writing. I must point out here though that I've always loved writing. English was the only subject I truly enjoyed at school.
Me: I'm going to write something now
Daughter: What are you going to write?
Me: Erm, a book
(Lots of laughter)
Daughter: What's it going to be called?
Me: Erm, 'Think Pink.'
Daughter: What will your main character be called?
Me: Hmm, Olivia
Daughter: What will it be about?
Me: I haven't a clue!
Daughter: Get thinking then, and good luck!
I could see she thought I was going to need it, and how right she was :-)
Less than two hours later I showed her chapter one! Wish I had a photo of her face! I started writing and didn't stop for three months until draft one was complete. I would write for a couple of hours before work, and then again as soon as I got home. My mind raced constantly, to the point where I didn't sleep much during that time, so often wrote during the night too. I can't remember feeling really tired so I guess it was adrenalin that kept me going. I changed the title to 'The problem with Pink' when I realized another book existed with my original title.
Once I typed 'The End' I corrected a few things and then sent it to some agents. Notice I say that I 'corrected a few things.' Oh dear! I had so much to learn. The rejections came back quickly, but amazingly I had a couple of personal comments, and nobody said 'don't bother.' One puzzled me: 'You write with energy and humour but you must learn to show not tell.' What did she mean? Another agent advised me to keep the 'tall, dark handsome stranger' to myself! She gave me other hints and tips too, and I've loved her ever since. At this point I bought a book on writing which I should've done in the first place of course. It's all well and good wanting to write, but it helps if you know how to!
Life got in the way of taking things further at this point. To cut a long (and sad) story short I'm fast forwarding a few years. I was now living nearly 200 miles away with my (now) husband, and had lost both of my parents. It was my partner who suggested I re-look at that manuscript I'd been so proud of years ago. I read lots of stuff about writing and read through my story. The first thing to hit me was that really there was no story. And the title was rubbish. And I'd thought the only point of view I needed to concentrate on was my own, I was the author, right? But yet, I still loved the main characters and the settings. I added some characters which gave me the (final) title 'The OMG Test.' I re wrote the book and searched for an editor to help me shape it. She was fantastic! She taught me so much, but I was my own worst enemy here. I was so tied to the story after living with it for so many years that I couldn't see many more changes were needed. I sent it out to agents and got rejections back. Once again though, some comments were very encouraging. But it still wasn't good enough. I worked on the opening chapters mainly, editing and editing and editing some more. Until finally I feel I cannot do any more with it. I'm happy to send it out for the third and final time. If no agent wants it I will self publish.
I know how hard it is to get an agent, and even if you do, it doesn't always mean a publisher will take it on. Obviously you need an agent for a publisher to even look at it though.
I'm unheard of, no writing history, and fifty next year. I'm realistic - it will probably be the self publishing route. It's scary, being at this point after so long. But I would rather try and fail, rather than fail to try. I do feel on my own though, and would love to support and have the support of other writers in my position.Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, and it's a two way thing! Wish me luck!
Love Pippa x