My Pleasing Path to Publication…

So I’m not pleased.  I’m not published.  But I’m patient.  Extremely patient. 

In my dreams. 

I’m a writer.  I’m unpublished.  Well, mostly unpublished.  I’ve been calling myself a writer for a few years.  I say that because I write.  I write words.  Even though most people don’t see them.  That’s a problem for me, being a writer whose words go unread.  So this post is a small installment in writerly vulnerability. 

I want you to know that there is a path to publication that I’m on.  It’s a rugged road.  I want you to recognize it and travel it with me. 

Don’t worry.  I’m too private to bemoan forever in public.  But I’d like to write about my pursuit of publication.  When I write about publishing, storytelling and submissions, you’ll get a glimpse–only a glimpse–of my real, tragic up-n-down existence as someone who feels he’s supposed to publish novels.  Not self-publish or publish-on-demand.  But publish, where publish means be contracted by a publisher to complete a manuscript, probably due to the unfailing efforts of a respected agent and a handful of helpful readers and editors and sales teams and marketing professionals along the way.

Related to that, I started a new work in progress (i.e., WIP) the other week.  When I start these–so far there are two full ones, one waiting for resolution, and several sitting or fledgling in pieces and stages on my laptop–I have a general way of writing.  My way makes it difficult to talk about a story when it’s in progress.  My psychological issues make it difficult to talk about them when they’re finished.  So, you can imagine that talking about stories is difficult.  There won’t be much of that on the blog.  But I will periodically attempt to entertain you with ramblings about my process. 

Today I wanted you to know that I started writing a story some days ago.  I got comfortable writing historical fiction, but this WIP is not in that genre.  It’s contemporary fiction.  I feel out-of-my-element, but I’m working on it anyway.  And I’m working hard. 

When I’m done, I’ll sit with it for a while.  I don’t know how long a while is.  But after sitting with it, I’ll reread it, revising bits and pieces as I read.  Then I’ll have one or two people from Team Michael read it.  And I’ll read it while they do, again, revising through that reading.  At the same time I’ll likely work on a query, that one-page letter written to literary gatekeepers called agents, holding my breath and praying short prayers that that letter will be  the one that gets me representation by someone who will “love” my pitch, want to read my story, and eventually love it too.

I am many days from that.  If I write 500 words a day, my current quota, I’m more than six months from a manuscript.  It’ll take me a week to read through it that first time, two weeks to get up the nerve to send it to someone on the Team, and another month before I hear back from them.  The process already sounds long, doesn’t it?  I may shorten it.  I may write 1,000 words a day for a while, but that’s too optimistic with a new kid over there, a wife who should and needs to be loved, a church to add leadership to–you get the picture. 

So, I’m setting my expectations low.  I just sat down this evening and in twenty minutes wrote 1,000 words.  It was a good evening for writing.  I have those from time to time.  It was nothing like last Thursday when it took me forever to revise what had been written the day before and leave that session adding only 75 or so words to the page.  All that to say, it may be a while, this path.  Stick with me.  Be careful about asking questions, though.  It’s a strange mix of emotions that comes when I get the well-intentioned, “So how’s the writing coming?”  One of these days I’ll give you my personal list of safe questions to ask an unpublished writer.  Remind me though.

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2 thoughts on “My Pleasing Path to Publication…

  1. As one unpublished writer to another, I’m very happy your are persevering. I’ve written 3 books I’d like to see published, and those who’ve read them have said I should self-publish them. Doesn’t sound fun, real, or even valuable. How would I get them to people who might enjoy reading them… So, I sit with them and wait, not even sending the query letter cause I’m not sure I want to be that person by the mailbox, waiting with hope for acceptance and dread of rejection.

    Michael, I believe you will be published. You are disciplined as a writer and you do have a plan—and you have many great stories to tell. I hope I get to be one who reads your words.

  2. Linda, thank you. I feel like I have many reasons to say that to you, including this encouraging comment. I hope you continue to write as you must, when you must, and that we both will share stories with the world in print.

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