Today I’m talking about all things having to do with what I’m writing, how long I’ve been writing and basically everything you (never realized) you ever wanted to know about my writing.
Dreamweaver has been a work in progress since March of 2015. The first draft took me a month to churn out. After completing it, I made the mistake of thinking my first draft was gold and ready to be published. I went back through, polished it up, made slight revisions but overall, the first draft remained pretty much the same. I then queried the manuscript and, to no one’s surprise, was rejected. The veiled and ambiguous feedback I received from the agents who turned down my novel led me onto a path to learn more about the story writing process. I found critique partners, I joined writer’s groups and talked with other writers, I stalked the writing competitions and pitch contests on Twitter for tips and tricks, and I read more books in a six-month span that I had in the last three years since graduating with my degree in Creative Writing in 2012. Dreamweaver Draft #1 quickly turned into Dreamweaver Draft #10. It was in draft 10 that I realized I hated everything about the story. I hated the setting, I hated most of the characters, I hated the tropey-ness and clichéd story. I hated it all. Determined to write the story of my heart, I trashed all the previous drafts and incarnations of the story and started over with a blank Word document.
Starting back from scratch, I evaluated the elements of my story that were the weakest. At the time, I felt that setting was my biggest struggle. To help me, I researched how other writers sink into the setting and feel of the worlds they build and created a Pinterest board dedicated to all things Dreamweaver. I pinned pictures that reminded me of places I’d dreamt up in Dreamweaver and I pinned quotes that helped inspire character attributes. My Dreamweaver Pinterest board has been crucial to helping me connect with the visual and lush aspect of the story and now I start all my story ideas with a Pinterest board. I then began rewriting and re-envisioning the story that I’d been trying to tell all along. After a few more drafts, and several more trashed efforts, I came out with what had been dubbed Draft #24. I queried again, was rejected again, and gave up on Dreamweaver altogether.
It wasn’t until starting the master’s program with SNHU and taking ENG 510 that I really began to engage with the Dreamweaver story. I had basically been on a six-month hiatus from all things writing. However, both ENG 510 and ENG 520 really challenged me to evaluate different aspects of the story that I either wasn’t aware of or had been too lazy to address. I’ve started what I’ve been calling Dreamweaver 2.0 since I stopped counting the number of drafts I’ve undertaken at around draft #25. Nowadays, I also use Scrivener to write (instead of Word) and it has made writing new scenes and trashing old scenes so much easier. I can now keep track of everything I’ve written for the story and if I want to reference a change I can easily track those changes. Moving scenes around has never been easier and doing so was crucial for me, especially with the interwoven structure of the story. My Scrivener document houses all my setting, character, and world sketches, in addition to all the drafts for my outlines, queries, synopsis and plot summaries. I write mostly by day when my two kids are at school, but when I had a full-time job I wrote when the kids were asleep, so before I had to get ready for work and after the kids were in bed.
Never would I have dreamt that writing this book would take me well into the two-year marker. When I had started writing this story, I’d had silly fantasies that I’d be the next Victoria Aveyard, that I’d be able to write a book within a year and within a month of querying find representation for that book. It was a silly delusion for me, especially considering I hadn’t undertaken writing full-length stories in several years and there was a lot that I still needed to learn that I hadn’t learned while obtaining my degree.
Ultimately, I think it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to write your story. It doesn’t matter if it’s a month or five years. I think as long as the story still calls to you and you still have a story to tell, the effort isn’t wasted. For me, it’s been two years and I wouldn’t trade everything I’ve learned about writing, storytelling, plot structuring, world-building and character sketches for anything. I still have aims to publish Dreamweaver. I believe what makes this story marketable and appealing to the Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy target audience is the #ownvoices elements of the story, the critique the story makes on current social issues, and the lush world-building. I think the themes and tough issues the story tackles within the high-stakes environment is fully immersive and will appeal to readers who want to think and ponder and be challenged by the story they read.
Since I’m already two years into the development of Dreamweaver and already have (several) complete versions of the story, I think it will take me until the Fall of this year to complete the Dreamweaver 2.0 revision. I’ll be attending the SCBWI annual conference in Los Angeles during July of this year and am excited to participate in the group critique breakout session and to learn from more experts and their experiences. I hope to take what I’ve learned from the conference and apply that to the new revision. In November, I have plans to attend the Atlanta Writer’s Conference and it is there that I intend to pitch the book live to agents and publishers. In order to meet that deadline, I’ll need to have Dreamweaver 2.0 finished and polished by no later than October of this year.
So that’s everything you never realized you wanted to know about what I’ve been working on. Though, now in hindsight, I’ve just realized I didn’t actually tell you what the story is about! Opps! That’ll just have to be for another time, this post is long enough already.
Keep reading and keep writing,