April. Springtime. Warm weather. Rain. Flowers. This is the Season to Bloom, not just in nature, but in my writing. It’s time I shed the winter blahs and get busy writing, editing and querying. My goal this year is to connect with an agent. Having an agent would free time for me to write, and that is what I want to do. It seems like I spend most of my days researching literary agencies and their agents, and then querying the ones interested in the genre I write.
I enjoy twitter pitch days, and #Kidlit and #TKA20 were on the same day, April 5th. I had a fave from each, and I sent my query letter and pages, only to meet with disappointment from both agents this week. My writers group believe a rejection is good as it shows we are trying, we are putting ourselves out there. But they still aren’t easy to take. I find hope in the fact that so many great authors met with several rejections before offered a contract. The most famous that comes to mind is J.K. Rowling, but even Margaret Mitchell had trouble getting GONE WITH THE WIND published. I’m in good company.
I find help, suggestions and great writing tips and advice in other authors’ blogs and websites. I especially enjoy reading Janice Hardy’s articles on revising in Fiction University. Sub It Club and Kidlit 411 are great sources for writing help and advice. And so is sharing with the writers in my critique group.
At first it was hard to listen to any negative comments about my writing, but I’ve learned to trust the members in my group. They do know what they are talking about, and when I take their advice, my writing improves. Because I know how hard it is to receive criticism, I have a hard time giving it. I just tell myself, if it was me, I’d want to know if there was a problem in my writing that I could fix. My input is only to help, not to be hurtful.
I remember a story I wrote about a grandmother who couldn’t hear. I thought it was funny, and my 5 year old nephew loved it and laughed every time I read it to him. I sent it out to several agents and publishers, with no luck. I then submitted it to Rate Your Story, a site where authors offer advice and criticism on the stories, including a rating from 1 to 10, with ten being the worse. I was shocked when I received a 9 rating, and told the grandmother in my story was mean. I never thought of her that way, but after some reflection, I realized that was how she sounded. I was embarrassed because I had sent this story out and probably alienated the agents who read it. They would probably never want to read another one of my manuscripts.
I had shared this story with my writers group, yet no one said the grandmother was mean. Maybe they thought so, but didn’t want to hurt my feelings. It’s better my feelings be hurt in our small group than for me to foolishly submit it to agents and publishers as it was written. Someday I will re-examine this story and fix it, but even now I’m too embarrassed to read it.
I know that for my stories to bloom, I have to accept criticism and then revise. I guess criticism could be compared to the fertilizer applied to plants and flowers. It stinks, but in the end, it’s the reason the flowers and plants grow and blossom.
This is my season to bloom. I plan to work on my writing and accept criticism as a gift. And then, oh, how my garden of words will grow!