Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Carla Rehse

All professions have a learning curve and writing is no exception. Yet in writing more than other professions, you're on your own. It's a solitary job after all, which means important aspects of the task sometimes get missed. These posts will be a chance for writers to mentor other writers through their confessions of lessons they learned. Lessons that might have been as painful as a pencil poke in the eye.

I'm happy to welcome my CP and fellow YA dystopian writer, Carla. You may not know this, but Carla is the fastest reader I've ever had the privileged of exchanging work with. If you need something looked over fast because you got an unexpected request, she's the tops. She's pulled my butt from the fire again and again. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us, Carla.

     “Never give up, never surrender!” from Galaxy Quest is one of my favorite quotes. It’s also a double-edged sword when applied to writing, as I recently realized.
     Practice, patience, and perseverance are the three “Ps” of writing. I started writing almost four years ago, and with the help of my fabulous critique partners (thanks Michelle!), my skills have improved. I have learned to love commas, or at least not hate them as much as college algebra. After finishing and querying two books, I’ve also learned to be patient. Characters evolve at their own pace in the story. Checking my email 500 times an hour won’t make an agent respond any faster.   
     It’s the last “P” that has proven tricky for me. I knew when I queried my first book that becoming published would take a long time, unless I wanted to try self-publishing. I had read many blogs about the querying journey, and I expected the rejections and the months of waiting while an agent read my book.
     What I hadn’t prepared for is when do you stop and let a book go? What is the right amount of perseverance? I queried my first book, Fringe Towns, for almost a year before writing my second. But while querying my second book, I couldn’t leave Fringe alone. If I found a new agent, I sent off a query and ignored my second book.
     I spent 2012, revising and reimagining Fringe. Over Christmas, several friends I hadn’t seen all year asked if I was still writing. I mulled over that for a month, until I realized the truth. Actually, I had stopped writing. It was time to let Fringe Towns go.  
     If your goal in writing is to become published, perseverance is a must. But perseverance should be about pushing forward, not staying stuck in the same place. I’m now writing a book that I started last year before putting it to the side.
     So, here’s to a new year, new ideas, and lessons learned 


  1. I completely agree! I was stuck with my first MS for half a year of worthless querying. But I learned a LOT from those mistakes, so I would do it over again (probably),

  2. I absolutely agree with pushing forward. It's so hard to figure out when it's time to let go versus when you're just being a wimp about rejections.