We interrupt the normally scheduled blogs to bring you an update on what’s going on at my end of the writing process at the moment.

For those of you following my latest blog posts about my influences, they will be returning very shortly. I just got a little delayed in looking for something for one of them… Stay tuned, I’ll reveal all later this week.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at where we are in the writing process.

Okay, so first update:

Querying

Now, judging simply on my response levels so far…this is NOT going well.

Over the past month or so, I’ve sent out roughly 28 queries.

From that group, I’ve had about 8 rejections so far.

So, no success quite yet.

I have to admit…querying is not an easy process on your self esteem. It’s tough to see something you’ve worked so hard on for so long get dismissed. The first rejection really bummed me out, but since then I’ve started to simply accept it as part of the process.

What I’ve found is that the level of sadness I feel is in direct proportion to the type of email you get back. Now, I’m fairly sure that almost all the emails I’ve had back rejecting me have been ‘form’ emails. I’m sure these agents have so many submissions to work through that there replies have to be pre-written to some degree.

Even so, there is a wide variety of the types you get back.

They range from the simply dismissive…

“Thanks, but no thanks.”

If this was your partner breaking up with you, it’s the equivalent of them saying that you aren’t good enough. That they’ve found someone better. Maybe with six-pack abs or perkier breasts (pick your gender-specific trait!)

…To the ones that have a sense of some personalisation.

“Thank you for your submission, but we’re going to pass at this time. We encourage you to keep trying as writing is subjective. What is wrong for one person might be right for another.”

In our break up metaphor, these are the partners that let you down gently. The classic ‘it’s not you…it’s me’ line. It let’s you walk away with at least a little self esteem.

I’d just like to say a personal THANK YOU to the agencies that go to the time and effort to make a writer feel okay with being rejected. Seriously, it makes a huge difference. Because, though I’d been warned about this in advance, the rejection does sting.  But having those kind of weird positives makes it easier to hang in there and keep going in your search to find someone who believes in your book as much as you do.

You can have 1000 rejections…but it only takes 1 person to say ‘YES!’

Okay, so next update…

Book 1 – Editing

I’m now on Edit 20 of ‘Hunters’. Yup…Edit 20.

At this point, it’s been through many iterations.

It went through my self edit to get it down in word count.

Then after my wife, Sarah and Andrew read it, we had another series of edits that polished it into shape a little.

Now I’ve shared the file with my friend Nikki, and she’s helping me proofread and knock correct the little issues that we’re finding here and there.

Edit 20 WILL be the last edit for ‘Hunters’, and at this point we’re just over halfway through it.

What do I think of it?

Well, I’m pretty proud of it at this point. On this read through I can see that it’s becoming more and more polished and I’m enjoying the story. I’m also very much enjoying getting another new perspective on it.

While I’m still a little concerned that all the people who are reading it are personal friends and acquaintances, I’m also sure that the people I’ve shared it with will give me honest feedback as I trust them as friends. So, the fact that they’ve all loved it so far buoys my confidence levels.

In summary… Book 1 is almost finished now, just 40 or so more chapters to edit through and then I’m leaving it alone.

It will be what it is.

Which brings me to…

Book 2 – Writing the Draft

I’m LOVING Book 2 so far.

It’s entitled ‘Blood to Earth’ and refers to a moment in Book 1.

I have a few concerns and worries about it, but on the whole I’m loving it.

I’ve written about 35 chapters thus far and the draft stands at around 75k words. I’m aiming for it to be a similar length to Book 1 (so that they look the same on the bookshelf!)

Okay, so the things that concern me thus far…

It’s not as action-packed or energetic as Book 1 as yet. While ‘Hunters’ had to set up the main characters, I made the decision very early on to make Zarra the central thread. Her story is an actual hunt, and provides the impetus behind the story. It gives it an energy while the threads of other characters are fairly static.

Book 2 now has established characters, but has to deal with the fallout of Book 1. The way the first book ends leaves me with a lot of scene-setting and more interpersonal relationships. Now, I’m not too concerned because on my plan (the infamous Spreadsheet of Doom™) I have a good series of action orientated chapters. I just haven’t written those yet.

I’ve also skewed off on two tangents I didn’t expect, both of which I’m LOVING.

One kind of wraps up a thread from Book 1 that I didn’t expect to wrap up till Book 3, but I actually think it fits more perfectly here. The other tangent was inspired by the work of my friend Sylessae (Check her work out in my artist section!). I bought a print of a tiger-woman off her which tied neatly into a story moment from Book 1. Her art inspired me to make more of it in Book 2 and, to my surprise, I’m LOVING the direction it’s going in.

Finally…

How Am I Feeling?

Good.

I’m feeling pretty good about all this.

Honestly, I have my ups and downs.

A bunch of years ago I was diagnosed with ‘anxiety with underlying depression’. It came off the back of a particularly rough sequence of years when I tried to cope and failed miserably until a friend pushed me into getting help.

Since then I’ve suffered frequently from bouts of it.

It feels very much like my mental equilibrium had been re-calibrated so that my anxiety is now much, much closer to the surface. It’s just something to deal with.

I have my ups and downs, just like anyone, but now I have to be careful on the downs.

A few weeks ago, when those rejections started rolling in… Well, that got to me. Along with a bunch of other stuff going on in my life, I got pretty down. It took me a while to regain my footing and get back to being happy again.

I know it’s something I’ll struggle with, probably for the rest of my days.

But today as I write this… It’s a GOOD day.

It also means that if you’re having a bad time of it, please feel free to DM me on Twitter, or contact me on here. I’ll listen and support you. We’re a community and we need to look out for one another.

So… Update complete.

Stay tuned for part 2A and part 3 of my ‘Reading & Writing’ blog post series coming really soon!

Love and Books

8 Comments

  1. Nikki

    Reply

    It has been my absolute pleasure to go through edit 20, the final edit, with you. Not only do I get to help bring it to its final state, but this is truly a piece of work I believe in. The story is captivating and I look forward to every reading session with it. I’ve said it before, but I’ll keep shouting it from the rooftops – everything about it in engaging. The characters, the settings, the plot…all of it.

    As for the querying, you know I’m there through that as well. And I very strongly believe that every rejection happens for a reason. It’s funny that you used the breaking up analogy in this post because that’s exactly how I see these rejections. Someone once told me that an ex is an ex for a reason. The same applies – a rejection is a rejection for a reason. And it’s not because your book isn’t worthy of representation. It’s because that wasn’t the right person to be the one to champion it for you.

    I’ll stop pontificating there. Ha! Just wanted to put it out there that I believe in you and I believe in your work. And I’ll never stop standing behind it. And you.

    xoxo

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      I can’t thank you enough for your help and support Nikki. xxx
      Edit 20 is so much better for your input. I can’t believe how many little mistakes were in there!
      More than anything I’m glad you’re enjoying the story, that means so much to me!

      I love your continuation of the analogy regarding break-ups. Here’s hoping I find the right match sometime soon. 🙂

  2. Jackie

    Reply

    Hi Jon!

    It’s great to hear your updates. I am sure it’s very difficult getting rejection emails. But like you said, you only need one yes! Hang in there, and keep plugging along.

    I was wondering how you balance your time between writing and editing? Do you think the writing or editing process is more difficult? I really admire people who can write fiction because I can’t write a good fiction story to save my life!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Hi Jackie. 🙂
      I am indeed hanging in there! I’m a pretty determined person when I put my mind to something.
      As for your questions…
      Time management is…tough!
      There’s a lot of things that put demands on my time. I work full time, I have a wife, I have the writing of book 2, the editing of book 1, the website to maintain, the blog posts to write, Querying to do, Twitter to keep a handle on…
      It’s A LOT.
      The Editing if made easier at the moment because I have help with that. I’ve got a friend going through the book and spotting all my errors. I tend to bounce between the writing and the editing to keep things fresh. When the inspiration runs dry to write, I don’t force it…I go edit. When I get bored of editing, or when inspiration strikes, I go back to the writing.
      The blog I try to do as often as I can, especially if I have an idea, or need to give an update on something.
      Alas through all this my relationship with Twitter is the one that suffers LOL

      I’m sure you could write a story Jackie. I firmly believe everyone has a story that only they can tell inside them. 🙂

      • RaeY

        Reply

        What an interesting way to handle editing and writing. You get bored with one, you switch it over to the other. My question is, do you have a deadline to have the edits complete (for book 1)?

        I agree with the others and I too loved your comparison to breaking up! Rejection is tough, but like relationships, you only need one yes! Keep plugging along.

        I’m glad that you’re updating your blog, I enjoy reading it.

        • Jon Ford

          Reply

          Thanks RaeY.
          I just like to try and keep everything ‘fresh’ so to speak. I don’t have a deadline to work towards really, so I can take my time. Get it right hopefully.
          That could change if I get a positive reply to one of my queries and they suddenly want a full manuscript though! LOL
          Glad you enjoy the blog *blushing*

  3. Paula

    Reply

    Eight rejections is tough, but all you need is for the right agent to see your pitch. Keep sending out those querries. When you find the right agent, it will have all been worth it. I hope you find that agent very soon!

    Wow, you are pretty far into your second book already! Do you let the characters lead the way or do you have a plan of sorts as to where the story will go? I suspect that either way, there will be some great surprises along the way for you and your readers.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Thanks for the support Paula! 🙂 It’s early days for my querying to be honest, I know many writers who have many, many more rejections that me. But you’re right, I’m going to hang in there and keep trying. Eventually I’ll find someone to represent me.

      As for book 2, it’s all planned. Every step along the way is planned on the Spreadsheet of Doom™. That said, I’m flexible enough to allow the characters to flow naturally wherever they go. Sometimes that means I have to do some rewrites or change the Spreadsheet and the plan to reflect the change. Mostly, however, the surprises and plot twists etc. are planned in and don’t really change.

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