Friday, August 29, 2008

Never Give Up On Your Writing

It's rare, I've heard, for the first book a writer creates to ever be published. Its usually cast in a desk drawer, put aside and becomes the "practice" piece to pave the way for those that do get published. But there's something about that first stays with you, is etched in your was the case with my historical romance.
I wrote THE GOLDEN LADY in 1983, while going through the breakup of my first marriage. I was depressed, brokenhearted and very worried as to how I'd support two children on only my salary. A friend, to cheer me up and get my mind off my troubles, brought me a novel to read . . . a romance written by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss entitled, A Rose In Winter. I devoured that book from cover to cover, moved by the words, the feelings, the hero and heroine. Up until this point I'd only written a few articles and won awards for my poetry . . . never dreaming of tackling a novel. But Kathleen inspired me and I just couldn't "NOT" write one.
Since I loved the Native American's spirituality and sympathized with their plight, as well as being an advid fan of such western shows as Bonanza, Rifle Man, Lone Ranger and Davy Crockett growing up, I decided to write a western depicting the love between a white woman and an Apache warrior during a time when such a union would be forbidden. I thought I did a "smashing" job at showing their struggles against all odds, having love win out and all that heartwarming stuff. When I wrote the last word a thrill ran through me I'd never experienced before. But my joy was soon squelched when I was rejected by publisher after publisher.
Apparently there wasn't a calling for historical westerns at that time. My novel just didn't fit in to the historical mode. Sadly I put it away, in a desk drawer and moved on.
As the years went by I learned the ins and outs of writing a novel. I joined Romance Writers Of America, saturated myself with "how to write" books, tapes, and attended writing workshops at conferences. It's all about the journey, the trials, the rewrites. And through it all I grew as a writer, eventually seeing my romantic paranormals and fantasy accepted by a publisher. I also saw the romance genre become divided into sub-genres . . . the standard historical no longer the norm. A western finally fit the mode.
The day I took THE GOLDEN LADY out of the desk drawer to rewrite and revise, I whispered a prayer. This story was the one that healed my heart, gave me a new purpose during a time when I felt all was lost. To think it could be shared by other readers brought tears to my eyes.
Now, twenty-five years later, editor Patricia Tanner of The Wild Rose Press has given THE GOLDEN LADY the chance to be in print. My hand shook as I signed the contract, a long-time dream had finally come true.
My advise to all writers is to learn everything you can to make yourself a better writer. Be open to revisions and rewrites. Learn from your mistakes. But most of all never give up on your writing.


Devon Matthews said...

Hi Roberta! Another Cactus Rose author here who was given a shot by The Wild Rose Press. Like you, I wrote my first romance novel during a time of emotional upheaval--immediately following the death of my father. And I think I projected a lot of the history between he and I into the story--however unconscious it was at the time, and only realized much later what I'd done. Anyway, that first book was so dear to my heart and I just couldn't give up on it. I also completed mine during the time when Western Historicals were a dying breed. Then, finally, last year "Angel in the Rain" was contracted by Patricia Tanner. After 12 years of working to become a better writer, I saw my first book published. So, I agree with you completely about "first" books. Even though those first drafts may need a lot of work, there's usually so much heart and soul poured into that first book, it's hard to give up on them. I'm so glad I never gave up on mine.

Celia Yeary said...

SAME, HERE, Roberta. Devon said it all and she did it so well, too. I've only been writing about five years, and honestly, I did not submit very much. My computer is loaded down with novels and short stories and anecdotes--I write fast.I really didn't know what to do with all of them. When I finished one--they were all long--I'd print them at the University, puch holes, and place them in a ringbinder. One by one, they began to be circulated among my friends, until, God bless them, they built my courage up.The best thing I did was enter contests sponsored by RWA--with those critique sheets in hand, I made charts--okay, I'm compelled to organize everything in sight--found my strengths and my weaknesses, then began to research publishers (and making charts)--I gave up quickly on the big ones--deep down, I knew I couldn't compete with thousands of others. After my research, I settled on one e-pub--The Wild Rose Press.It was the one that stood out from the rest, I thought. And voila! It worked. Good post--I thoroughly enjoyed it. Celia Yeary