On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Journey and First Books

All right, I'm jaded. I sold after 8-9 years of learning my craft and completing four manuscripts and having six ideas at proposal stage. Placing in quite a few contests, winning some.

Well, I got an email last week from someone who'd heard of me and was thinking about a writing career. This happens to me about once a month. I truly suppressed a groan -- thinking about the long journey it took me and usually takes others. But, naturally, I considered the email and gave the individual my best advice for them. One of my biggest regrets? That I didn't pursue writing seriously after college. This newbie doesn't have a clue how much work and time and dedication it will probably take to get published. Hey, I have the first draft of my first manuscript and I made all the beginning mistakes, so unless this person is a genius, or a complete natural, they will go through all the steps others do.

First Books, again, I'm jaded and can be wrong, but I've seen A LOT of people come and go through critique groups, and writers' organizations. First books are usually learning how to write books, and a writer hones their craft with every project (I hope -- and I sincerely hope that's true for me). So when I see someone putting years into their first project, doing incredible travel and research, or worse, quitting the day job to write, thinking the book will be published in a snap, I groan. But you can't tell people this. Who wants to listen? I wouldn't have. Of course, I actually wrote the wretched first book and by the time I submitted I was in a critique group and working on projects 2, 3, and 4...

So my best advice to you about first books. Write it. Learn from it. Submit it. Then go on. Do NOT spend more than a year polishing it. Even if you think it's the truest, most important story you will ever tell. Life's too short, publishing's too tough. WRITE MORE!

Love to all, Robin


Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

When I look at how I handle the intricacies of story building in my second, and even my mostly un-revised third, books I suppress a groan about my first. The end is even noticably better than beginning. Sigh. Oh well, I love to learn, so I guess I'm in the right field...

5:55 PM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

This happens to all of us. My best buddy said that you always do the best work that you can at the time, so accept that.


8:29 PM  
Anonymous Danica said...

Robin, I'm on first book number 9, I think... that's how many I've completed and yet I still feel like there's still that one piece I'm not getting. But I still try, and when the rejection comes, I move on. Eventually, I'll get something written that sells, but I'm not wasting energy on the ones that got away.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

Well, you always hope that you'll be able to go back and sell previous books (**Publisher on their knees, hands clasped in supplication, "Oh, please, PLEASE, writer-dear, don't you have ANYTHING in your drawer?"** -- yeah, definitely a dream).

There's always something I think I could do better today than I did yesterday in my published books. The best thing I can say is that none of them out there will embarass me in the future.

And usually in each of my books, there is a technique or something that was worrisome at the time.

You'll make it, Danica!

10:16 PM  

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