Friday, February 12, 2010

Blog Chain: All These Things That I've Done

Hey!  We're back on the blog chain.  This chain is brought to you by the letter X and the talented Rebecca, who wants to know:  What is the best mistake you've made so far in your journey as a writer? How has that mistake helped your grow?

The question is really:  which one do I choose?  I've tried very hard over the last couple of years to look at every mistake as a learning opportunity.  I figure, the bigger the mistake, the bigger the opportunity to learn something.

I think I mentioned it in one of the comments, but my best mistake was querying.  I hadn't even finishing revising yet before I queried.  I was so green, I didn't even have a critique group.  When I got my first MS. request, I had to stay up half the night finishing my revisions.  And it was my best mistake because it landed me my agent and my subsequent publishing contract.

But I don't want anyone to be like: this is how you should do it.  Because the truth is that I was lucky I had a strong voice and hook.  My plot was a mess and I was missing so many commas that I must have driven Chris crazy.  I went through multiple revisions with Chris and then multiple revisions with my editor.  Revisions that I SHOULD have done myself.  I sent DDL out into the world days after I'd finished it.  Now, granted, I'm a "revise as I go" kind of person, which means that I revise earlier chapters as I work on later ones, but still, if I'd sat on DDL for 3 or 6 month, I might have seen some of the glaring faults.

So you should definitely use this as an example of what NOT to do.  I'm happy with how things turned out, but I only got one chance to make a first impression on my editor, and now I worry that I'm always going to be that writer who needs lots of guidance on plots.  Always put your best pages forward.

Well, take a look at Michelle's awesome answer to this question, and then tomorrow head over to Cole's blog, but be careful, she will steal your peaches!


  1. I think this is a very common problem among writers, so it's good for you to point it out.

  2. You are very lucky that you got such an opportunity - or you're just that dang good (which really sucks for the rest of us mortals). Have no fear though - I will not toss my stuff out there early. Hell, if I get it out there at all, that'll be a step forward. Nice post.

  3. Wow, that was an awesome mistake! Sounds like it turned out pretty darn well. Great post.

  4. Oh man, I had the complete opposite end result as you'll see from my later post.

  5. So before my head swells, I should probably point out that my experience was pure luck. I had two awesome people (my agent and editor) who were willing to take a big chance on someone who had turned in a manuscript riddled with errors.

    Also, I submitted my first story for publication when I was 17, so I've got about 15 years worth of rejections. I even had the nerve to send my first book, a fantasy stinker, directly to an editor.

  6. LOL! and yeah, I have to agree with Eric - you ARE probably just that good!!!

  7. So you're the exception that proves the rule? Is that how the saying goes... I think it is;) Either way, it's an excellent point - it's always difficult to resist the impulse to send out too soon.

  8. Yep, I always send out too soon, or at least it is something I really struggle with. And don't sell yourself short - if they were willing to take a chance on you, you ARE good :) mistake riddled ms or not :) But it is a mistake a lot of writers make. I rely on my crit buddies now to help me know when I'm ready to send something out. Because I always want to jump the gun :D Great post!!

  9. Um, WOW Shaun, I wish my mistakes turned out that well! I've jumped the gun on querying, and I still only have 2 people to crit for me. Trial by fire seems to be the way for many authors. Glad it worked out so well for you!

  10. I did the same thing, except for me, my book wasn't even finished. Yeah, I know, I'm an idiot.

    Haha, newbies.

    Great post.

    (But somehow, I also ended up getting a book contract. Not for that particular book, but my query for that book is what opened a door for me, so if I could do it all over again, I would do it exactly the same.)


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