fiction, Uncategorized, writing, writing fiction

The Writer’s Burden

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Lily Chang © 2019

I’m going to be candid about where I am in the writing process, as I try to publish the first manuscript in a series of adult fiction. No embellishments. Honest and transparent. Sometimes despairing and isolating, and other times, exciting.

The adventure started with a mystical experience that I cannot explain in any sensible way. I had trouble believing it and tried to ignoring what I had heard.

But, the message wouldn’t go away.

Tell, no, show people — through storytelling — that even when life circumstances are difficult or dark, love and hope exist in a real, tangible way.

How was I supposed to do that, when I felt like I was anything but a master or expert on love?

The kind didn’t matter. Romantic. Friendship. What not. At least I didn’t think so.

My own life was in shambles.

I couldn’t run forever and eventually started writing,

My background was in philosophy, not writing fiction. A couple of things I had going for me were: I had previously learned to write well. I’m pretty good at avoiding careless writing mistakes, and I’m familiar with getting a point across.

Besides that, what I needed to learn to do and do well seemed endless. A plot structure. A hidden need. Turning points. Inciting incident. The list goes on.

Besides attending some writer’s workshops, I was on my own for a large chunk of my writing process, until about a year and a half ago.

A well-published author started mentoring me. She believed in my writing ability and the magic I had to share. But I still had a steep learning curve ahead.

After a year of working with this lady, my writing had improved by leaps and bounds and my manuscript had doubled in length. Having endured eleven revisions, I thought I was done and put together material to find an agent.

The process of finding an agent — writing different synopses, queries, doing an agent search — was disarming and scary.

I felt like I wasn’t good enough and wouldn’t stand out enough to be chosen, especially when hundreds of thousands of people are looking for agents to help them publish their works.

After receiving a handful of query rejections from agents, I decided to pause and ask an expert in magical realism to read my manuscript. I could have continued sending queries and been justified in doing just that. Well-published authors had seen similar fates, receiving numerous rejections, sometimes including negative, unsolicited remarks. Perhaps what motivated me to do more was my own educational background and upbringing. I wanted to see what I could improve.

Comments from this published author and expert in magical realism took me by surprise. She was a stranger and had no motivation to be nice, just to be nice. She reflected some strengths of my writing that were so encouraging. And, she offered some recommendations that would strengthen my writing as literary fiction.

Wait, what? My writing counts as literary fiction? And I have strong elements of that present? Really?

I had no idea what category or genre my magical realism writing fell under. My stuff is so different from anything out there.

Whatever. I went back to revising after I got her remarks and that’s what I’ve been doing the last few months.

After working on the last part of the book, I went back to do another agent search. The harsh reality of traditional publishing is that we cannot approach the same agents with the same project, even after thorough, substantive changes. And, I have no idea what’d make them choose me in an unending ocean of candidates.

The search has been disarming, isolating, and scary. A huge part of me wonders whether I’ll be chosen, ever. In my worst moments, I’m worried no one will find my writing all that interesting.

A few trusty individuals have had to tell me, “stop that” or “get out of the crazy tree.”

Someone will get it and take my manuscript where it needs to go.

Sigh.

I’m sure this book is part of a continuing story I need to share. People need to hear it. People need to know they’re not alone. And, people need to be encouraged.

I made my last tweaks this morning, since getting final feedback over the last five chapters. Part of me is ecstatic. At just over 97,000 words, I’m done revising! At least for now.

Part of me is panicking.

There are a lot of unknowns out there.

But, let’s start with what I do know, instead. I’m not just doing this for a hobby or to check off a bucket list item. And, I’m not just living a pipe dream of becoming a professional writer.

A few people, important and wise individuals I trust professionally and personally, have encouraged me to continue writing.

Successful writing takes time.

Publishing works of fiction through the traditional route takes even more time. Especially for people like me, who are new to the field.

This is a story people need to hear.

As for the unknowns? There’s too much.

I’d like some professional commitment from the publishing end, so I’ll feel a bit better and more confident about what I’m doing.

Let’s just stop there.

Nothing in the publishing world is done on my schedule or according to what I want. All I can do is continue working hard and wait.

Wait.

That’s the hardest.

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Lily Chang © 2019

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For now, I’m taking a moment to enjoy an exquisite chocolate from a local chocolatier’s shop, Temper Chocolates.

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