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!