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 I’m unpublished. Well, mostly unpublished.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.