Friday, April 9, 2010

What I’ve Learned On My Publishing Road by Lynette Sowell

Welcome to Fortifying Friday, the day we share journeys to publication, as well as articles offering encouragement to writers. We’re happy to have author Lynette Sowell as our guest today.


What I’ve Learned On
My Publishing Road

Among the joys and trials of being a writer are the lessons we all learn along the way. I was trying to think of something pithy or at least inspirational to share, maybe something you haven’t heard before. And I was stumped.

Then the other day I was cleaning out some of my old writing files, and I found a double-spaced printout of the first 40 pages of a long-dead manuscript. I’d always liked that idea and wondered why I’d stopped working on it. At the bottom of the last page was a long handwritten paragraph written by a multi-published author.

I started reading the comments, at least six years old. Wow, they thought I could write. (I patted myself on the back and smiled). Hmmm, they found some plot issues. Quite a few, and they even made a list of them. Quite a list. And at the bottom, scrawled in all caps: KEEP WRITING!

My now more experienced self sat and marveled that a multi-published author would have read the first 40 pages of my manuscript and critiqued it for free, rough as it was. I tried to recall my reaction. I think I was stunned that they’d found so much “wrong” with my book.

But my now more experienced self agreed—that entire list of plot issues pointed out legitimate problems that didn’t let the story ring true and stifled the characters. That author was right. And another point they made? Those problems were easily fixed, something I didn’t see at the time but can see crystal-clear.

I say all this because it’s important for us as writers to make haste . . . slowly. We are in such a hurry sometimes, aren’t we? When I had a dream of being published, I wanted it now. The catty part of me, way back when, would get impatient when I saw others realize their dream before me. So I’d tear into yet another manuscript, writing dozens of pages and yet not getting anywhere. The long-dead and critiqued manuscript that I dusted off the other day was one of those impatient attempts. I couldn’t see, or wouldn’t see, at the time that my writing needed more work than I believed it did.

We know that writing is hard, hard work. There are times when, yes, we must seize that moment, swallow our fear, and get that proposal sent to the agent or editor. And there are times we must take a deep breath, make ourselves slow down, and pick apart that manuscript to make it the best it can be. But most important of all, we must KEEP WRITING.

Whatever genre you write, whether you’ve written three books or three chapters, my prayer for you is that you will learn to make haste slowly. Walk through those doors the Lord opens for you, and remain teachable along the way. And hopefully you’ll have fewer half-finished novels than I do!



Lynette Sowell is the author of four romance novellas as well as a three-book cozy mystery series published by Barbour Publishing. Her first historical romance novel released through Heartsong Presents in 2009. Two of her novellas won first and third place in the Historical Novella Category of ACFW’s Book of the Year contest. She is a past secretary of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is the current secretary of ACFW’s Centex chapter. Lynette is a Massachusetts Yankee by birth but Texan by choice, where she lives with her husband, two teenagers, and five cats that have their humans well-trained.

You can learn more about Lynette and her work by visiting: http://www.lynettesowell.com/

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