“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― Bilbo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings
I did not appreciate the truth of that quote when I began writing THE PROVING six years ago. But back then, the novel was called EMERGENCE, was 140k words, had completely different characters and settings, and broke all of the rules of plot management. That was me ‘going out my front door’, and I am stunned when I recognize to where I have since been swept off. I cringe now when I look back at that ponderous first draft that I was just positive would be loved by agents and editors alike. I remember thinking that surely I had a chance to be published within a year or so… maybe 18 months at the outside. Not so much.
But as in Frodo’s case, the journey – while painful and long – had tremendous value.
Now it’s October of 2015 and I am well into the sequel to THE PROVING, titled The COUNCIL OF LORDS. But I don’t have to repeat the mistakes of 2009. I can spot passive text, word repetition, and poor dialogue structure from across the room. The Author Salon “Six Act, Two Goal” construct guides my plot. Multiple levels of conflict are weaved through the text, and close points-of-view are frequently employed. While I know there will be many, many re-writes to book 2 before it is finished sometime in 2016, I am willing to bet that it will be a far superior product in much less time.
But that does not reduce the impact of Bilbo’s quote.
Having finished chapter 1 of tCoL, I am again stepping out my front door. While I have plotted and planned to the hilt, I have no intention of keeping my feet. The story and its characters will inevitably sweep me away and take me places I never envisioned, and that is all at once terrifying and wonderful.
In the meantime, THE PROVING is being read by my dream agent, and sometime soon I will know if a very exciting new chapter of my writing career is about to begin… or not. And I continue to query other agents, at least a handful a week, using the strong new query letter the fantastic Carey Corp helped me craft.
Working while waiting, waiting while working, this is the process. Many authors in social media use pregnancy as an analog of writing. Having watched my GeniusWife give birth to five beautiful babies, I must say that I completely disagree. With pregnancy, from the very beginning you have a pretty good idea when the process will end. With writing, you can get to the end of the third trimester and… surprise! Six more trimesters to go!
So I wait and work, collecting rejection emails, coveting feedback when I can get it, and dreaming of that day when an agent says “YES”.
Until next time,