Two Weeks Until the Big Day!

Well, it's a little over two weeks. Eighteen days from now I will trek down to the local post office with bundles of manuscripts.

Those of you who've followed my blog since day one will know how seriously I take my self-imposed deadlines. Over the last few months I have edited, researched, lost 28 pounds and generally psyched myself up to start my new life as a professional author.

Of course, there's the statistical chance that I won't be successful and that I will have to tolerate years of being turned down before my books make their ways to shelves but... what if that doesn't happen? What if the years of preparation I've put in are enough? What if an agent sees my work and thinks 'I like that'?

Would you go to an interview for a job you really wanted and think 'there's no way I'll get this'? Of course not. That would be daft. You'd do everything in your power to prepare yourself for the interview and give it your best shot. That's my theory with my career as a writer. It's too important for me to assume I'm not going to succeed. I have to. I'll keep going until I do. When it happens, I'll be ready for it.

Background to the Blog

For about two decades I bought Writers' & Artists' Yearbook every year but it wasn't until a couple of years ago, when I'd been through so many adventures and jobs, that I finally thought:

'What am I playing at? This is how I want to spend my life.'

The Challenge

I did some research and read lots of articles other authors had written about what the life of an author was really like. I went and saw some best selling authors speak and took loads of notes, then I set myself a challenge. I would live as if I were already published for a year. I would assume I'd been given a deadline by which to write a novel and I would complete the novel by that deadline. More importantly, I'd write a novel before I turned 35! The deadline arrived and the book was written.

Challenge - The Sequel

In my original plan, this was the point at which I'd approach agents but the plan changed. I had a great idea for a sequel. I knew I wanted a career as a novelist and I needed to prove to myself that my book-in-a-year hadn't been a fluke so I set myself a deadline for the same day the following year to complete the second book.

Then Came the Blog

On the last stretch of the journey, I set up a blog. This blog. I wanted to reach out to potential readers and build a following for my work before I started slogging my manuscript around. What I didn't anticipate was the support that I would receive from this and the other blogs on which I write. Nor did I anticipate how much I would learn from other writers online. I'm not scared of failure because I know that there are hundreds of readers and avid writers I can speak to who will give me honest feedback and support me through my trials and tribs on the journey.

Here Be Dragons

The next leg of the journey is going to be an adventure. I have no map for it. There may be storms. There may be dragons. I don't care: I'm sailing in anyway.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be going over my short-listed agents again; checking out their news and websites; looking at the performance of their authors etc. When I've picked the ones I feel most matched with, I'll put together submission packages for each of them and send them off. From that point until I get an offer, my little cottage will be Submission Central. I won't stop until I've got an agent.

My husband - who was made redundant just before I finished my last novel - still doesn't have full time work and I'm unemployed too so the process of pulling together cash to send off manuscripts is necessarily slow.

As the company Hubby was working for went under completely, there was no redundancy package so we had to fight for statutory redundancy which is low and takes an age to get. Family members aren't able to help financially. It's tough but there's no point getting all cross about it. I'm lucky that even in the midst of all this my husband is supportive of my writing. Much to be grateful for.

The Challenge Continues...

While all that is going on, I'm starting work on novel number three. I love putting my characters in tricky situations but this will be the trickiest yet. By this book, my readers will be familiar with (and hopefully love) the core characters and in this novel they'll see what happens when they're really thrown into the mire. I can't wait to start writing it.

How I Write Novels

Usually I do the 'brain writing' between February and June/Julyish. This is when I allow my subconscious free rein with the idea for the next book (which I sketch out in the five minutes following 'the end' on the first draft of the last book.) I dream about the characters, imagine their lives etc. It's all very 'early Brontes' except my own Bronte sisters are my husband and some fish. Not much call for floaty dresses.

In the summer, I write a bit every day and work out a rough plan for character and plot development (which always goes awry by the tricky middle bit), then the weather changes. I write progressively more in September and October but 50% or more is written between mid-December and mid-February. I don't always write my chapters in order because I find the different paces of writing produce different effects so I write the bits of the story most suited to the pace of writing. Some people might find that a tricky way to work but I find it works brilliantly for me.

Permission to Nag

Well, that's quite enough from me for today - phew! Long post! If I haven't posted about sending off manuscripts in three weeks do me a favour and tell me off. Time to let them go out and fend for themselves.

Bonnie  – (13 May 2009 at 14:42)  

I'm so excited for you! Keeping my fingers crossed :) It's been such a pleasure to follow you on your journey and I can't wait to read what you've written.

~Bonnie

London Belle  – (13 May 2009 at 15:30)  

I love your attitude - I totally believe in power of the mind, if you set yourself up to fail you probably will!

I have just started writing my first novel! Its taken me forever to find an idea that I stick to! I look forward to seeing how you get yours published!

from one unemployed writer to another ;)
xx

AVR  – (13 May 2009 at 17:10)  

I wish you all the best and hope to read your published novels soon!

Rebecca Woodhead  – (13 May 2009 at 18:26)  

Bonnie, thanks for always being so supportive.

AVR, I'll be over as soon as I get published to spill the beans!

London Belle. Fabulous news! Welcome to the club.

Charlie  – (13 May 2009 at 20:06)  

I admire your attitude and your determination to adhere to the deadlines that you set. If I don't feel like writing one day, I don't. I never force myself although many writers say you should.
Also, the enthusiasm and support I recieve from my fellow blogmates comes as a complete and wonderful surprise to me as well.

Brian  – (13 May 2009 at 20:48)  

Rebecca - You know we have your back in this. Keep going and don't stop until you get there. Also, you don't have to worry about missing a deadline because you have now given us permission to give you a hard time about it. Although I think you will be just fine. Good job!

Rachelle Tucker  – (14 May 2009 at 04:13)  

Neat. I just gound your blog and I already love it! I hope you get an agent.

Angie Ledbetter  – (14 May 2009 at 05:05)  

I've found Blogland support to be a treasure!

"There may be storms. There may be dragons. I don't care: I'm sailing in anyway." (And you have the big outboard motor called Determination to get you there safely!) :)

Having a little writing contest if you've got free time between mailings.

Rebecca Woodhead  – (14 May 2009 at 10:15)  

So many lovely comments. Thanks everyone. Angie, I'll pop across immediately.

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