Sandy Nadeau shares her writing journey with us today.
A Long Road Stubbornly Traveled
It’s been nearly twenty years since I wrote my first book. To this day, it still sits in a drawer. There’s several reasons why, but the main one shall be my confession of the day. I hope it will help you as a writer to not make these kinds of mistakes. It is a romantic mystery set in Norway. I wanted to write something that went back to my family history. With great-grandparents by the names of Ole Olson and Nicolena Sven (I’m not kidding), my Norwegian heritage fascinates me. So why not write a book with it interwoven throughout.
I worked hard on it, researching with this new internet thing to find all things Norway. Lots of books, encyclopedias, whatever I could find. I had always prayed to finish writing a whole book. And I did. (I’ve since advanced that prayer to say finish a book and get it published! Details.) I submitted that first book to every publisher I could find. Back in the day, you had to print out pages and pages of your hard work, stick it in a large envelope and MAIL it. With a self-addressed stamped envelope known as a s.a.s.e. I made a chart of where I sent it, when I sent it, when I heard, what I heard. That last column always said the same thing. Rejected.
I did hear some positive feedback, one publisher almost bought it, but one little detail within the story was not plausible in their opinion, so yet another rejection. My biggest error in that first book, was not in what I wrote, but in what I accepted from others “in the know”. When I was told that it would take a lot of editing. I was crushed. Not that I thought I was a flawless writer, but I looked at it as, “I’m an awful writer”.
I met with an agent wayyyyy back then at a conference. He read a little of it, called it fluff and basically dismissed me. I withered into a dark corner and cried. Once the initial pain was gone, I did some rewrites. Another time I met with an author at a conference and she was not nice to me at all. I was crushed again. It’s so hard to take opinion criticism. Constructive would be okay, but when it’s just their opinion…stop doing that. I’ve done a lot of pulling myself up by the proverbial bootstraps over the years. Just remember writers, it will happen.
It comes down to thick skin which breeds determination. Maybe it’s my stubborn Norwegian roots. But it took me years to grow it thick. To understand I had to make it thick. One thing I didn’t understand back in those days, was that editing is only done to improve not to hurt. When we take it as hurt, take it personally, it cripples us and takes away our joy and self-esteem as a writer. Don’t do that. If only we could grow instant thick skin. Spray something on and wah-la! There ought to be a way for those that want to become an author. So the best I can do is tell you to try your best to grow it as soon as you possibly can.
Surprising encouragement can also come along. At yet another conference, (remember that stubborn streak) I met with Tracie Peterson. Once I got over the huge bout of fan girl moments, that I was sitting right there next to THEE Tracie Peterson (I love her and her writing), we talked about my book. She was so encouraging and then the unthinkable happened. She wanted to take the entire manuscript back to the publisher. I believe I skipped for a week.
I wish I could give a happy ending to that, but I can’t. It was rejected. It took a while, but ultimately rejected by the house. So it sits in a drawer, otherwise known as a deeply hidden computer file. I’ve tried reworking it a couple times over the years, but it’s still in hiding.
However, since then, through stubborn determination, a LOT of years (I had a daughter to raise), I learned more, I sought answers, I grew thick skin, I stumbled onto the most amazing editor, I now have two different books not only written but published. I’ve learned how wonderful editors can make a story that you so strongly believe in and I welcome those edits. They have the same purpose. Make this book the best it can be. And even after all these years, I still needed heavy edits.
So grow that skin and love the editors! You can do it. I know that for sure, because I did!
Sandy Nadeau loves to go on adventures, photograph them and equally loves to write about them. She and her husband did a lot of four-wheeling in the back country of Colorado and shared those experiences with others by taking them up in the mountains. Her writing experience includes a community news column in a small newspaper for twelve years, magazine articles and two novels with adventure, mystery, romance, but most importantly sharing God’s love. She is currently a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and has two books out. Married for a whopping 40 years, she and her husband are loving life as grandparents to their three grandchildren after the big move to Texas. Travel is their favorite thing to do and they don’t get to do it as often as they’d like. Adventure awaits around every corner, over every hill and mountain.
Her latest book is RESCUE ME.
Thanks Sandy for sharing your writing journey with us. I remember those days quite well.
GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!