by Elva Cobb Martin
Driving the other day with our GPS, I suddenly saw how my writing life resembles this navigational gadget. My husband looked on with raised brows as I burst into fits of uproarious laughter. If you read on, get ready to laugh and release some healthy endorphins into your system.
In writing I put in my goals and happily slam my foot on the gas doing what I love most these days—writing. But then I find the pavement running out from beneath me, and I must recalculate.
Goal: Write the Dream Novel
- Fall in love with an idea, a genre, a character, a setting, and a theme.
- Research, research, and read tons of novel-writing books.
- Join a writers’ group.
- Attend an expensive writers’ conference.
- Plan like crazy getting the main plot points, conflict, and MRUs in order.
- Gas up to the speed limit, and get the first draft down on paper.
- Receive email feedback. “Cozy mysteries are no longer selling well.”
Goal: Get an Agent
- Research sites, friends, writing groups, the kitchen sink, and the fence post.
- Research query letters.
- Research agents not on any predators’ list and their submission guidelines and blogs.
- Revise, critique, and polish the query. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
- Send it to The Agent.
- Receive email feedback: “Sorry, The Agent is no longer accepting fiction clients.”
Goal: Submit to an Editor on My Own
- Research and study fiction editors and publishers. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
- Learn how to do a great One Sheet.
- Join or start another writers’ group heavy on critiquing.
- Attend some more expensive writers’ conferences.
- Get editor appointments.
- Get some nibbles.
- Memorize every word the editors say.
- Revise; get critiques; polish; check DPOV, pesky words, and tricky errors. Repeat until finished (or ‘til you hate the novel).
- Send full to first editor ASAP.
- First Editor Response, “I really like this, but we have just bought a novel with a similar theme and setting. Sorry.”
- Repeat most of the above.
- Second Editor Response, “I like this so far, but we are really looking for novels of 90,000 – 100,000 words. You’re about 20,000 words short.
- Repeat most of the above.
- Third Editor Response, “I like this, but it’s too wordy. You need to cut about 20,000 words.”
It's the thing I now do best.
What about your writing life? Ever feel like you are on a GPS merry-go-round?
The good news is that my real GPS (most of the time and sometimes with several recalculations) manages to get me to my destination. I hope the same holds true for my writing life, especially since I have the best model on the market—GHS. God's Holy Spirit.
If this article made you smile and feel less alone as a writer on the uphill journey to publication, please leave a comment, tweet it, and share it on Facebook.
Elva Cobb Martin
Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have published her articles. She has completed two inspirational romances. In a Pirate’s Debt is being considered by a literary agency for representation. Summer of Deception is being considered by a publisher. A mother finally promoted to grandmother, Elva lives with her husband Dwayne and a mini-dachshund writing helper (Lucy) in Anderson, South Carolina. She and her husband are retired ministers. Connect with her on her web site www.elvamartin.com, her blog, Carolina Romance with Elva Martin, on Twitter, and on Facebook.