Yup, yesterday was my official third "blogaversary" or whatever. I know, I sound so excited. But this year has been different for me, and this time I want to celebrate by just acknowledging how much I've learned and grown through this blog. So sorry, no contests or wild flailing dance parties here.
When I first started this blog, it was totally lame. No, really. It was my own place to talk about my writing, since I figured my family was getting tired of hearing all my rambling. I had a hard time keeping my goals, and somehow announcing them to the internet made me more accountable. It's not for everyone, but I'm pretty sure my first year of blogging taught me how to finish books.
Hi, I did write like 6.5 novels that year. Crazy, right? Each time it was like a miracle. I finished a book. The high of that accomplishment filled me with giddiness and motivation. If I could reliably finish books—surely I could get books published!
Of course it wasn't that easy. I was still a total noob. A noob who queried at least six months of that first year. A noob who sent out over 200 queries spanning four different projects. A noob who didn't quite understand what editing was or how much you actually had to do to make a book shine.
The first year left me realizing how far I had to go, though I learned a lot from reading writer and agent blogs. I knew I was lacking technical knowledge. I was trying to learn it. Luckily, Blogland also connected me with some amazing writers who are now close friends. We all grew together, worked hard, encouraged each other to keep going.
Then came year two. Oh, year two. Year two, curiously enough, was made up of two parts: Mad Querying and Revising My Rear Off.
The querying part was even more frustrating than year one, since I had far more interest that ultimately led to rejection. The rejections made it clear that I was still missing something on the technical side of writing, but of course didn't give me enough to actually help. I tried to figure out what was wrong, but I couldn't see it then. I was blind, in need of assistance.
And then I won a contest.
I got to send my partial to a real live agent (now my agent) for a critique, just what I needed to finally learn what was wrong with my writing! To my complete disbelief, that led to my first full request off a partial...and it's eventual rejection, heh.
But I got the crit, and, oh, was it brilliant. I totally had a light bulb moment. The book had a lot of problems, but for the first time I had a clear, positive direction for improvement, not just a vague list of things to avoid in general.
I can follow directions, and I worked my tail off, resubmitted as invited, and was given more directions. And more. And then even more.
It turned out though, because while year two was hard it ended in me signing with an awesome agent. The work paid off. It actually happened. Of course I wanted it, but part of me also worried it would never happen. I'm not going to lie, it was huge validation and still is. On hard days I cling to that knowledge, try to remember what I have instead of what I'm lacking.
Year three has been...many things.
I thought nothing could be tougher than year two—I thought I finally knew how to work hard and revise. Oh, was I wrong. Year three has been even more revision. A full rewrite of one book. Intense revisions and high hopes on another project. That point where you think you will DIE if you have to read your book again? Turns out you can read it like three or four more times after that. Sure, you lose a little bit of your soul, but the book looks really shiny.
I also learned how to officially slow down my writing process. Even through all the revisions in year two, I managed to pump out four new books. This year? Um, I haven't even finished a new project. Heck, I haven't even gotten half way through one! Sure, I rewrote a book, so I kind of wrote one, but it feels very strange to be at ZERO new books in October with little chance of finishing one by the end of the year (and practically no desire, honestly).
I'm still trying to figure out if that's a bad thing or not. In comparison to my previous years, I do feel like a bit of a failure, but at the same time I have a freaking pile of old books/ideas to fix. Why add more, you know?
And then there's been the blog explosion. Holy crap, I never expected to have so many people reading my blog! It's really only been in this last year, and I'm not sure I can express how gratefully overwhelmed I am about it. Thank you for reading, all of you, whether you've read one post or every single one since the beginning (seriously, those poor souls deserve medals).
In all honestly, you guys have kept me going this year. This has been one of the most difficult years of my life thus far, and some days it truly felt like my blog was the only thing I had going for me. Each comment made me smile, helped me remember that I had good things in my life too, even when it didn't seem like it. So thank you for reading, for commenting, for being there for me virtually. And thank you to all my real life friends I've met through blogging—you know how much I need you guys.
Part of me looks at year three and sees a big fat load of failure. I mean, if you knew the details there would be no denying that there was a lot. Like, if you were a negative person you could even say my whole year has been kind of a waste. In some darker moments I felt that way, at least.
But then another part of me stands tall. I faced a lot of those things. You know, those ones writers DREAD happening, the things you hear and then immediately pray they don't happen to you, the ones you hope to bypass with the miracle dream publishing stories, complete with double rainbows and diamond encrusted unicorns.
This year I learned that, despite it being hard, I can survive. Even when I'm emotionally spent. Even when hard work doesn't pay off. Even when I have nothing to show. I'm still standing. Still working, albeit it much slower. I still want to do this. I still think I can.
Maybe that doesn't seem like much, but it's a lot to me.
Here's to year four and whatever awaits. Hope to see you around here now an then! I will leave the porch light on, just in case.