November 29, 2010
Wisdom and Whimsy with Pat Dale
Hi Friends! Please welcome Whimsical Publications author, Pat Dale,visiting with The Balanced Writer this week. I appreciate the thoughts and experiences Pat has to share, and I know you will, too.
First of all, I’d like to thank you, Danielle, for inviting me to join you today. It’s always fun to share our thoughts and feelings with one another. As a fellow Band of Tigers refugee, I suspect that we have a bit more to share than if fate had not intervened back when. But it did, and now here we are, each of us moving forward with our own writing career.
If your readers will kindly indulge me a moment or two, I’d like to reminisce on my transition from writing music to writing fiction novels. My college English profs tried to convince me to write fiction back then but I was stubborn. I suppose being a hot-shot trumpeter and bassist had something to do with it. Music was the center of my life when I was young, and I had no time to consider alternate routes through my pell-mell life. A few decades later, I faced the end of my career as a professional performer, so I began looking for something new to tackle.
I’d always carried stories in my head; characters that had never lived, living lives that had not seen the light of day either. So, fifteen years ago, I began writing a novel. Other than that I had no idea what was acceptable or usual practice, I just started jotting the words into a spiral notebook. Three months later, I had a complete novel of a hundred thirty thousand words. Well, nearly complete. I could not, for the life of me, find a satisfactory way to bring the story to a climax.
Thus it began; my quest to move my newfound love from my head to a printed page. I studied with mentors, joined writing groups, gained a handful of critique partners, and wrote my heart out. One novel, then another, and a third; and so on.
Trust me, I’m getting to the point of this blog, Which is, I had no doubt that getting published would be easy. My stuff was good, very good. A number of good writers had told me so. My critique partners had told me so. My gut told me so.
Unfortunately, all the editors I queried had other ideas. I got the run around in one form or another for a couple of years; occasionally with a bit of advice but usually with a cold "good luck elsewhere."
My brother urged me to consider e-publishing so I did. Nothing but strange missed communications ensued from that effort for another year. I met one editor at a conference and she told me she loved my book. Never heard from her again. Months later, I sent the MS to the editor who’d taken the other one’s place but she hated it. Stuff like that went on until I sent a book to Tiger Publishing. The editor liked the story but felt it was not right for their coming line and invited me to send something else if I had it. If I had it?
Good Lord, I’d done nothing but write, write, write for all those years. Yeah, I had it. I sent another sure to please book. She liked it, too, but it was not right either. Did I have anything else? I did and I sent it. And she loved it and said it was right.
Voila! I sent another and another. She wanted both of them! I got the contract for the first one. An overnight success after only eleven years! Before they could send the second and third contracts, the owner learned she had a dread medical condition. Months later, the company folded and I had a letter releasing my novel from legal purgatory. And that is what this blog is REALLY about.
History is just that. A recording of cold hard facts that change nothing, except the future path of the person being written about. Interesting in a way, and yet it does not bring us forward if we’re not willing to put the day we find ourselves in to some good use. My yesterdays are gone, fun to ponder, but the only time I have is right now, at this moment, going forward as long as I breathe. So, I choose to continue writing and submitting, knowing that some of my work will make it and some will not.
We’re smack in the middle of a season to be thankful for what we have. I give thanks every day for the editor who loves my work enough to put it to the test of publishing it. Also for that same editor when she has to tell me I’ve fallen short in one way or another. Only when I work against some sort of resistance do I get a sense of how to improve my writing. So, yes young writer, give thanks for the discriminating editor.
The world of books is in the midst of a cataclysmic reconstruction. Some institutions will fall and others will rise to take their place. The new medium may well be electronic. I urge you to embrace it, whatever your personal feelings. Paper bound books will be with us for a long time yet, but the paperless world is just around the corner and we’d better begin to make allowance for that fact. As a writer who is old enough to have lived through more than one revolution, I urge you all to find whatever way works to get your own characters and stories in front of your readers. Be it a hard bound book, a paperback, or an e-reader, the important thing is for them to hang on your every word while vicariously living your story in their heads.
From the heartland of mid-Missouri, I greet you one and all. Happy reading!
Make sure to check out Pat's book new release, A Girl's Best Friend, from Whimsical Publications. It's one of the many to-be-read books on my substantial reading list!