World enough and time.

Life is short and distractions are many. Had we but world enough and time, this would not matter, but we don’t; life is short and we nave neither world enough nor time. But procrastination is difficult to avoid. And yes, there are numerous studies into the benefit of small doses of procrastination, or procrastination by other names; however, like anything, and especially like any vice, procrastination in large doses can be the difference between success and failure.

I, like many other people who write, have faced writers block. But not the abstract, Shining-esque, concentrating and can’t write sense, but the very real, ‘I’m distracted by all the things around me that are far more engaging than doing the work of writing’ sense. And writing is work, I whole heatedly believe that creativity is not a mythic, muse-given skill, but a simple work ethic (in fact, I have this poster above my writing desk). And because it’s work is why it’s often so difficult to get to work.

Over time I’ve found that the best way to beat procrastination is to give into it, and then find a routine. Before you get to work, take an hour or two or three and watch all the YouTube videos you want, clean all your dishes, make your bed, give into your procrastination in one fell swoop, and then sit down. This is where the routine comes in, after you’ve gotten the procrastination out of your system, fall into a routine of work. This is how I was able to write a 65,000 word novel in three weeks, by having a routine and sticking to it like it was my job.

My routine was simple and effective for me. I’d get up at 8, make a pot of coffee, eat a little, and then write until the coffee ran out, then I’d make another fresh pot and write until dinner, then I’d write again until midnight and sleep until the next day of writing. Because I had a routine, this was one less thing I had to worry about, because I almost always wear the same thing (I have a drawer of black, pocket t-shirts), this is one less thing I have to worry about. Having less unimportant things to think about and having a routine have been scientifically shown to help free the brain throughout the day to be more creative and make better decisions.

There’s no secret to success, but there are a lot of things successful people do in common, and one of these things is having set routines that help them preform at their best, and having very strong and deliberate work ethics. But another thing they have in common is knowing when to take breaks, procrastinate, have fun, and the get right back to work.

-T

Embracing Failure.

So now that we’ve been properly introduced, I guess it’s time to dive in.

Failure. This blog will be about a great deal of failure. The subtitle of this blog is ‘papering the wall with rejection letters,’ this is in reference to what F. Scott Fitzgerald was said to have done when he was just getting started as a writer. He was faced with so many rejection letters that he could paper his walls with them, and he did. Every day he would have been faced head on with his failure, and every day he would have kept going. And eventually, after many many drafts of his debut novel This Side of Paradise, he was finally published, and the rest is history.

Failure is not a setback, it is not a roadblock, failure is a speed-bump. Failure tells you to slow down, but never to stop moving. As Americans today, it seems as if we have a certain adversity to failure; ‘failure’ seems like a bad word almost. But it hasn’t always been this way. In the past, failure was looked upon as a necessary step on the way to success, and not as a dead end. So now, through this blog, together, we will embrace failure, more specifically, my failure. My fifty submissions of this book alone, my eighteen outright rejections, my three glints of hope, and my twenty-nine non-response rejections. But I’m going to edit this book again, and then I’m going to submit it again. And no matter what, I will embrace failure and I will celebrate it. But hopefully I won’t have to for all that much longer.

-T

Let us blog then, you and I…

My name is Thomas Marshall, I am a previously unpublished 21 year old, I attend the University of Southern California, and I hope to start a career in writing with my approximately 65,000 word YA novel, Millennial Fish.

This is the opening line of a query for the novel that I’m trying to get published.

This blog is my attempt to catalogue my experiences editing (and editing, and editing) and trying to sell my debut novel. There are hundreds of books and blogs about the writing process, but this blog takes place after all of that; editing, revising, and querying literary agencies and publishers, all in an attempt to go from writer to author. This blog will be full of personal experiences as I walk through this process with you (the internet), as well as tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

I started writing the book the summer after my freshman year of college (back in 2015). It took month of pre-writng; defining characters, outlining the plot, and writing snippets. But when I sat down to write the book, it took me three weeks,  non stop. I’d get up at 8, make a pot of coffee, eat a little, and then write until the coffee ran out, then I’d make another fresh pot and write until dinner, then I’d write again until midnight and sleep until the next day of writing.  I modeled this writing method after the near-mythological way Kerouac was said to have written On The Road. After these short three week came the long haul. Editing, revising, showing it to friends, and editing some more. After the summer of 2016 I shopped a finished version of the manuscript around to several small publishing houses and literary agencies. Aside from dozens of copy-paste ‘thank you but no’ responses, I got a few promising gems of praise.

One of the difficulties for us in reviewing submissions is that we make our editorial decisions by what can loosely be called a consensus process. So, when we are considering books closely, all of our editors need to weigh in. With regards to Millennial Fish, unfortunately we have reached a split decision which means we won’t be pursuing the novel for publication.  I’m sorry not to have better news, and I truly do hope you find the right home as I do honestly think you did a great job of capturing Alex’s voice, and I particularly liked the complicated relationship he has with Ken throughout…I thought you did a remarkable job with Ken’s character and spent the entire novel afraid of what might happen–you handled this part of the story with impressive nuance and deft, while keeping everything very believable. The road trip is also a great part of the novel as well.

So this is where I am now, back to editing and revising. After which, hopefully in the next few months, I’ll be at a point where I’m sending out queries again, and seeing who bites.

-T