Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to LiLa!

One year ago today we wrote our very first blog post. We've reposted it below in celebration of our blogiversary. Current day commentary is in red:

And so it begins...
It all started with a late-night conversation on Sunday July 27th, 2008. Two sisters, bored (quasi) housewives and a dream of making a living doing what we love - reading and writing. 2 hours later (you should see our phone bills...not pretty) we had an idea for our first novel. A brilliant idea, in our most humble opinion. [Unsurprisingly, this idea was not brilliant. It was, however, relatively easily executed. Point one for the naive aspiring authors]

We started with an outline (because we're anal like that), and a week later we were writing our first chapter. And here's the thing...it was easy. [Does anyone else have warning flags going up at this point? Um, yeah, writing a first draft when you don't know what the hell you're doing is definitely easy. Convincing anyone else to read it? Not easy.] I would write a chapter and e-mail it off to Laura, she would edit and then write the next chapter, always trying to one-up me. And now, a month-and a half later, we're putting the finishing chapters on our first draft and getting ready to send it out to friends and family for some serious editing. [Ok, we all know we're obsessive and write relatively fast, but this is ridiculous. Keep in mind we had no idea what showing versus telling was a this point, so we basically had 55,000 words of witty inner monologue with some scattered dialogue for good measure. But at least we were sending it out to friends and family to edit because they're totally qualified, right? Oh. My. God. Any aspiring authors reading this, please learn from our mistakes. We were idiots.]

So, we're either literary geniuses who write amazing, best-selling books in under two-months, or we completely suck and don't yet realize it. Keep reading and find out...[Oh God, does anyone really need to keep reading to figure out the answer to this question? We were a couple of delusional, wannabe writers who thought it would be easy to get a book published. And at first I was tempted to say that we completely sucked. But here's the thing. We didn't suck. Not completely anyways.]
***
So, THE NORTH SHORE was a complete train wreck. We wrote it in 3rd person without knowing you couldn't change POVs every other sentence. It was supposed to be a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (how original!), but we stuck so close to Ms. Austen's plot that our retelling sort of fell flat. Not enough conflict, zero twists and no turns, Ms. Austen may not have needed that stuff to make her writing work, but we sure do.

We fondly refer to THE NORTH SHORE as our 55,000 word writing exercise. We needed to write that craptastic book to learn what not to do. But here's the miracle, back when we submitted to agents there were a surprising number of them who saw promise in our writing. They were able to look past all the cliches and adverbs and see our voice and maybe a tiny bit of potential. These agents gave us pages of feedback and we had lots of "Oh crap, you mean adverbs are BAD?" moments.

We could have given up, in fact, after all of those rejections we probably SHOULD have given up. I'm sure we even thought about it for a second or two. But here's the thing, when we started writing together we found something that we didn't even know was there. We discovered that while we still had a lot to learn, we really loved what we were doing. We had a passion for writing and maybe, just maybe if we could figure out a way to learn from all the feedback we'd received we'd be able to write a book worthy of an agent and publisher.

So, we started over. New idea (our own this time, sorry Ms. Austen), new genre (chick lit was so OVER) and a new perspective. We'd finally figured out the difference between showing and telling, we avoided adverbs like the plague (well, we tried anyways...) and we even found some writer friends who were willing to read our manuscript and provide real feedback.

And you know what? It worked. We wrote a book that we were proud of, a book that landed us our dream agent and a book that's currently being read by editors. But here's the trick, all those rejections did more than just teach us how to write, they taught us how to revise. They taught us how to accept feedback gracefully or at least with the illusion of grace. Those rejections taught us to be real writers.

And we're still learning. We're still getting feedback and figuring out new and creative ways to incorporate it into our writing. We're still perfecting the art of tension and pacing. We're still working hard to write characters who jump off the page, characters who grow and change throughout the course of the story. We know now that we'll never be done learning and we're excited to start the next leg of our journey, hopefully with an editor in tow.

Anyways, Happy Blogiversary Lisa and Laura Write! It's been one hell of a year, and we can't wait to see what the next year will bring.

Thank you to all of you who have been there with us every single step of the way. We have to say, it wouldn't be nearly as fun without you guys!

XOXO,
L&L

28 comments:

Little Ms J said...

Happy Blogiversary!

Love the modern day commentary. Don't you just want to pat your 2008 backs and give them a "There there, how cute?" Silly girls, agents are for badasses.

Love being part of your journey, badasses.

Icy Roses said...

Happy blogiversary! I'm kind of sad I wasn't there from the very beginning.

Also, to be sure, your first post was way better than mine.

Here's to a year that's even better than the first!

The Blogger Girlz said...

Happy Blogiversary!

You guys are hilarious and so inspiring! I'm so lucky to have met such badass soon-to-be-published authors! Here's to another rockin' year for LiLa! Can't wait to se what happens next! :D <3

~Ella

Solvang Sherrie said...

Happy Blogiversary -- You've come a long way in a year!

Sarah said...

Happy Blogiversary! Here's to many, many more years!

Corey Schwartz said...

Happy Blogiversary! What I can't figure out is why you guys don't have 10,000 followers?

Rebecca @sometimesnonsense said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LILA! Wow, fabulous retelling of the events ladies. You always manage to put a spin on things that just make them so darn funny yet meaningful. Love it!

I'm right there with you on the first book thing. I just recently accepted the same thing so I'm knee deep in my new WIP and after reading this (and knowing another friend's similiar story) I'm hoping the same holds true for me. Boy oh boy have I learned a lot in a year!

Thanks for sharing...this is just the sort of thing brand new writers need to hear because it pretty much happens to all of us. So sad in a way how we think it's all going to happen fast. lol No doubt we'll soon be celebrating the big news that you've found a publisher. You girls rock!

Weronika Janczuk said...

I agree with Corey. You'll be hitting increased follower numbers soon, I hope--this place is fabulous. I wish you the happiest of happy blogiversaries, and keep up the good work.

I hope to be here next year when you're looking back on that new book deal and the following success. ;)

storyqueen said...

L and L, your story is EVERY author's story. Even people who say the first thing they every wrote was published are probably lying. Every author has their own Closet of Strange and Unusual Learning Manuscripts.

The sad thing is that I still add to mine from time to time.....

Happy Birthday!

Shelley

confused homemaker said...

Happy Blogiversary!!! You both are total awesomeness. Enjoy the day:)

Shelli said...

happy anniv. just think if you had not started writing craptastic stuff which helped you start a blog - we never would have met :) Here's to crap!!!!

ali said...

This is totally awesome!

I'm a new follower of you guys and had NO IDEA you were brand new to this game! What an accomplishment to be where you are just ONE SHORT YEAR later. You rock. Hard.

Congrats and Happy Blogiversary!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Haha Happy Blogiversary-I love the future commentary! It's really fun to see how much you've learned and know that many of us fell into the same traps. You girls rock!

Tess said...

365 days of giggles, poking fun of bad fashion, raving over bad tv, and talking about great reads --

good times....good times...

jessjordan said...

Happy Happy Joy Joy! Thanks for the commentary--It made me laugh, and I can do that, because I'm laughing *with* you, not *at* you. We've all been there, thinking we're literary geniuses just because we came up with BRILLIANT (i.e., cliched) ideas and put them on "paper." And we've all been given swift kicks in the rear to remind us that, ahem, maybe this writing this is actually a craft and takes real practice and all that lame-o stuff.

Okay, now that the celebration's over ....... Can you see me, sticking my tongue out at you? I didn't realize you've only been at this for a year. One measly little year. Darn you, writing machines!

jessjordan said...

p.s. My first real attempt (I don't count that 30k'ish monstrosity involving college kids and a Halloween party) was chick lit, as was my second. At least you found your voice(s) quickly. You nail YA :)

K. M. Walton said...

Happy Blogiversary. I like how you went back and commented on your first post - creative & interesting.

Katie said...

Happy Birthday!

Once again, I laughed out loud at your hilarious commentary! Y'all are just the cutest durn girl on the block... er - blog.

How dumb we all were way back when we first got started. And thank heavens for kind rejections that pointed out our dingbat errors :-)

It's only a matter of time for you two. Someone told me the other day, "You're just too close to it. You can't see the picture if you are in the frame - and Y'all are in the frame."

Here's to more fun TV reviews, Douche-bag-o-meter, Tell the Truth Tuesdays, commentary on you lives and much more!

Love you guys!!!

Suzanne said...

Happy Birthday! What a journey! Thanks so much for sharing. I think I will use your persistence as a talisman to just FINISH THE SECOND ONE ALREADY!

Loretta Nyhan said...

Happiest of Days to both of you!

And, what a great post. You guys should teach a writing class or host a seminar--seriously!

Donna Gambale said...

Congrats! Can't wait to see what the next year brings!

Christina Lee said...

GREAT POST!!! And so much of it is ringing true for me! Keep on writing gals-you rock!

ElanaJ said...

Happy blogiversary! And I love reading the stories about how people start writing. I think we all have them, and a lot of them are the same.

Tara said...

Happy Blogiversary!!

Can't tell you how much I love you girls and your amazingly witty blog!

Kelly H-Y said...

Happy Blogiversary! So glad I found your blog ... it's fantastic!!!

Joanna said...

HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY!

And I totally blame you for now being addicted to Glee--I've seen the first episode twice now!

Kimberly Derting said...

Happy Blogiversary, LiLa!!!

I loved the look back! Oh, and my agent calls is "adverbitis"...and apparently I've had a nasty case or two myself.

Looking forward to another great year!

Rebecca Knight said...

I'm late to the party, but HAPPY B-DAY, LiLa!! I love you guys!

It's amazing that you have your journey documented like this, and invaluable for new writers to read how it all unfolded. Thank you for sharing, and good luck in this new year!

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