Being An Example

I talked with my friend Tabitha the other day. We are working on cowriting something. We’re preliminary stages, talking about plot points, character biographies, settings, what we are willing and not willing to do. The discussion moved from there to where I am with Chaos Wolf and my various short stories.

I told her I wasn’t where I wanted to be. This week has been devoted to working on the things necessary for submission – the dreaded synopsis and equally dreaded query letter. I’m struggling with both, as I should be since this is the first time I’ve attempted them. I was up front with Tabitha that this part was as hard, if not harder, than writing the books themselves. For the synopsis, I am trying to distill a 99,800 word story into 500 words. Not an easy feat by any means. I admitted that I felt like I was floundering.

Tabitha responded with this. “Cripes….do you know how many times I’ve been in awe of what you know about the full writing experience? How to find this, how to get in touch with someone who can get you here or there, how to get conferences, being able to ‘effing’ TALK to someone who might be interested in your stuff…”

That caught me off guard. I’m still looking for mentors and peers to teach me the next thing I need to learn. It hadn’t crossed my mind that others might be looking to me in the exact same way.

I’m also aware of how far I have to go, of how much I have yet to learn. My goal is out of sight in the not-quite-as-distant future. The thought of someone looking to me as an example makes me want to raise my hands in horror and scream, “Go find someone who actually knows what they are doing!”

Then I stopped and thought about what she said. I have been working on Chaos Wolf for almost four years. I have learned so much in that time about the craft of writing. I have gone to conventions and attended workshops. I have been educating myself about how publishing works – both traditional and self-publishing. I have made new friends and met many authors that I admire and respect. I hope that I have grown as a writer.

I don’t think we writers-yet-to-be-published give ourselves enough credit for how much ground we’ve covered when our goals seem to be so far out of reach. All I can do is continue to striving forward, aware that not only am I looking for examples, but I am an example as well.