The first thing I learned from my college writing courses was:
Some people think they know everything about writing. And sometimes, those people are wrong. So very, horribly, terribly wrong. They will try to convince you otherwise. And dear novice, please do not listen.
Get a second opinion.
I had good experiences in my college classes for the most part. I got a lot of valuable critique that I really needed, point of views I would have never considered on my own. I learned that some people read the word “demon” in a story and automatically equate it with Christian ideologies, and pronounce it like “daemon.” Maybe even suggest I start spelling it that way. I experienced the joy and frustration of someone saying, “I’d love to read more!” then never hearing back from them. I received conflicting critiques (“I didn’t like this scene.” “I did! It was like ~this~”) and had to determine how I felt about it.
But the MOST important thing I learned was that my writing was not as bad (…or as good, let’s face it) as I’d thought. These classes put me into perspective, and that was vital for me. I had different confidence than I had before. I was ready to step forward.
Enter the Internet. A wonderful place where you can post anything anywhere you want (within reason) and hopefully, someone will give you attention.
I…uh…failed at this for a while with my writing. BUT IT’S FINE. I posted on Wattpad with some tester stories (in those beginning days, I was dreadfully afraid of having my ideas stolen). I went to Reddit, and DeviantArt. When nothing hit, I thought, “well, I’m on Twitter. There’s a #writingcommunity? Let’s see what this is about.”
I’ll be honest with you; my memory is dead-ass terrible. I don’t remember a damn thing about those early days. I DO remember learning how to share my story. Piece by piece, character by character.
I talked about Kari, and people listened. Not only that; they CARED. People asked me questions, and I grew confident in what I was doing. I got art commissions of scenes and characters done, because other writers were doing the same things. I made friends, some of those first ones are still around today and are very dear to me (go to Kira’s website for me. She is one of those dear ones, and her writing is literally out of this world).
Through Twitter, I also met a few editors. Now is where I will tell you, as I’m sure you’ve been wondering (“but, Jen, what are you going to do with your writing?!”)…my big plan, my dream, my goal, was to have my books published, of course. I wanted them on shelves at my local Barnes & Noble. I wanted to say “Harper Collins picked me up. And I am a badass.”
Well, kids. Sometimes dreams are for FOOLS.
Just kidding. Keep dreaming. My dream hasn’t been squashed yet…it’s just altered a little.
See, I learned from an editor on Twitter that Harper Collins (one of the Big Publishing Houses) is notoriously difficult to get into. You have to write what they want, when they want it, and then, if they do choose you, you need to be prepared to lose all rights to your story.
Changing character names? Possible. Title swap? Oh yeah, likely. Cover art? Prooobably not definitely up to you. Story? Well…is yours gonna sell?
And as I saw other writers on Twitter, most of them self-published or under Indie houses, I thought…well…maybe that isn’t the only way. Maybe it isn’t about my story having prestige. Maybe it’s about sharing what I love with the world, and finding others who love it with me.
I worked on stories I had worked on for nearly two decades. I fixed them and adjusted things, learning as I went. And then, in September of 2021, I found my True Home.
But you’ll have to wait to find out what I mean. >)