The other day I got in a cleaning frenzy—I know, hard to believe. My problem is that I’m a saver. I stack things that come in the mail and think one ad or another might come in handy one day—most never do. But this discussion isn’t about kitchen countertops, but about a pair of two-drawer lateral filing cabinets I have in my office. I should have cleaned them out three years ago when I moved. All I did was pack the folders in boxes and stuck them back in the cabinets once my office furniture arrived. Then of course I had a lot of unpacking, so cleaning out file folders was left for another day, which turned into years. Overtaken by this frenzy I mentioned, last week I started going through file drawers.
Am I alone in having kept a stack of first 3 chapters and synopses that got rejected? I’m sure at the time there was pain involved in tucking them out of sight since I was already published. Now I look at them, at the dates (mid to 90’s) and my first thought is how did I ever think I had what it took to be a “real” writer? Now with the passage of time I wanted to see again reasons why these “gems” got turned down. And I’m sharing them:
1. Too many minor characters involved in the plot.
2. Too much going on outside of the main character’s romance.
3. Too much of the hero’s point of view.
4. This heroine has the upper hand too often.
5. The plot seems too complicated for a series romance.
6. Lively characters but the emotional barriers fall too quickly.
I can smile now, because I paper-clipped to some of these failures, sheets from workshops, such as: Plot Motivations, and Defining Plot, and The Joy and Rapture of Writing. (Ha, now that made me laugh out loud)
Some notes I’m still keeping are those from a workshop titled: If You Write, You’re A Writer.
I obviously believed that, because my file cabinets overflow with many notes on every topic from “Knowing what you want to write”, to “Selling what you write”, to “Promoting the book you’ve sold.”
On another folder I have a note to myself that says: “The sky is the limit. My only limit is in my own imagination. Don’t be afraid to break new ground. And remember: As soon as you start worrying about what other people think about your ideas, you’re limiting your creativity.”
I found other truisms well worth keeping and sharing.
1. “Writing may be solitary, but publishing is people intensive.”
2. “The Key to Success: Write More!”
3. “You can’t fix what isn’t on the page.”
4. “You have to complete a book to have written a book.”
5. “Resist the urge to polish your work to death.”
I’m sure I have a great many more snippets of wisdom stuffed away, but I got bogged down reading all of tidbits I just listed. Then, of course, I stopped to write this blog, and guess what—I’m over my cleaning frenzy. Who knows what I may find on another day. Do any of these things sound familiar to you?