We all have those moments of self-doubt—the moments where we feel like our work isn’t good enough. To contest the self-doubt, we’re constantly revising words, characters, plots. . . and it still never feels adequate. Cyn Taylor understands that feeling. No matter where you are in your creative process, you’ll appreciate Cyn’s outlook and advice about starting and finishing something you think is worthwhile.
Just Start Your Novel
By Cyn Taylor
Many folks live by the mantra that life is all about the journey. As a writer, I beg to disagree. The journey to becoming a published author is fraught with perils. You begin a story with joy and elation; much like bringing a first child into the world. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration — but it’s my analogy, and I’m sticking to it.)
Soon we come to the middle of our tale. Let’s correlate this period of time with the teen years of the child you birthed earlier. Joy and elation gives way to gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair. This may be why there are so many bald authors. Look it up.
We made it through the meat of our story. Now let’s wrap this up in a nice package and put a bow on it. But finding the perfect ending can be as elusive as that candy bar that keeps sliding just out of reach under the seat of your car. Sure, you’re the one that hid it there due to a complete lack of ability to share. But you didn’t know at the time how far into the clutches of darkness a car floorboard could go.
Then, finally, the perfect words fly from your brain, down your arms and to your fingers as you tap the computer keyboard as fast as the Flash can dart. The beginning is tempting, the middle moves the story along and the ending, well, IMPAC Dublin Award here we come.
Sit down, have a nice cup of tea and take a moment to catch your breath. Because now the real work begins — finding a publisher that agrees with your assessment of that book.
I wrote my first novel more than 25 years ago. I rewrote that book ten years ago. Then revised said book a couple of years ago. It wasn’t that I wanted to keep changing the basic story. What had to change was certain terminology due to technological advances, i.e., cell phones, etc.
Having first written the book as Romantic Fiction, I submitted it to Harlequin. In those days, a submission was double-spaced and printed on 8.5 x 11 paper. Talk about going through the ink. And printing paper still had holes on the side! Yes, I’m old. Get over it. Harlequin’s response was along the lines of “We have numerous books at this point. We’ll get back to you.” They didn’t. Hence the first rewrite.
Inspirational Romance was hitting the market big time. I jumped in and put my characters into a Christian setting. I added humor and a bit of suspense. I began to get to know my characters better and started to feel an attachment to them. I submitted, now via email, to different Christian publishers. Responses varied from “Not what we’re looking for at this time” to “We would love to help you self-publish.” BLAH!
I took a job as a journalist for a community paper and I started looking at my book through fresh eyes. Hence the next revision.
My characters needed more depth. I tried reading Christian Romantic Fiction and found myself falling asleep. While this was good for my health it did nothing towards helping me become a better writer. I gave up reading that genre.
Then I read Stephen King’s book On Writing. I had always found his stories terrifying and was never a fan. Now when I am asked what helped me most in improving my writing, I recommend this book. King is still the master at turning a phrase.
As I worked on redeveloping my first book, I was struck with the idea of making it into a series set in the Great Smoky Mountains, my area. Before I had rewritten book one I was well on my way through books two and three. Things kind of unfolded from there. I finally finished book one. Again. Then I started searching for a publisher. Again.
I received an assignment to interview recently published author Brooke Cox. Her first book Deadly Doll was picked up by Mantle Rock Publishing. After the interview I bought the book and saw her publisher listed. My feeble brain thought, “Why not?”
I submitted my first book Blue Mountain Sky in October of 2015. Editor Kathy Cretsinger liked it well enough to send me a contract in December. Blue Mountain Sky is set for release mid-July. The next two books in the series are planned for later this year and first of next. The genre is Contemporary Romantic Suspense.
So here we are at the end of my story. That of a soon-to-be published author. How do we wrap this up all nice and tidy? Let’s not. I believe that our stories are never ending. All of us play a small part in the greater story woven by God. (Yes I’m a believer.)
If you have words stuck in your brain get them out. Put them on paper. Share them. Open yourself up to change. Don’t be afraid to self-promote. It may be you that writes the next great American novel. You won’t know if you don’t start.
Cyn Taylor lives and plays in Knoxville Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She and husband Brent live on his family farm at the peak of Thunder Ridge along with a feral cat and many other woodland creatures who come round to visit. They have two adult children and seven grand-children.
Taylor is a freelance journalist for a community newspaper. She has written faith and feature articles for the past eight years. Taylor says she gets some of her best inspiration when she accompanies Brent on fly fishing excursions to the Smokies. He fishes. She writes. Life is good.
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