Today’s post is a little bit special.
Rachel is definitely one to watch and I just hope she remembers taking over my little blonde blog for the day when she’s uber famous. Sigh.
So here she is – Rachel Burton with her guest post ‘5 Things I Wish I had Known Whilst Writing My First Novel’.
Writing your first novel can be a frustrating business. You lurch between the highs of your writing actually coming together for, perhaps, the first time in your life to the lows of rejection and wondering if it will ever happen for you; if you’ll ever get an agent or a book deal.
Hindsight is always a wonderful thing, but when I look back on writing my first novel I realise what an amazing time it was and it’s something that I’ll never experience again. Yes there were some terrible lows, but I wish I’d celebrated the highs a little bit more instead of constantly stressing about getting on to the “next” thing or being able to put the word “writer” in my twitter bio without feeling like fraud.
So, if you’re writing your first novel, try to enjoy it and here are a few things I wish I’d known then.
1. Take your time.
I was in a rush to get finished so that I could send my book out to agents and begin the exciting process of getting published. Firstly, that process isn’t as exciting as you might think. Rejection aside it takes forever and is the biggest test in patience I have ever known. Secondly, if this book you’re writing does get published you may never get this kind of time and freedom to write again.
I wrote my first novel to my own time frame, my own agenda and my own plot twists. I had no idea about market trends or submission dates or any of that. I just wrote. I tried to hurry it and I wish I hadn’t because writing my second novel under a deadline is stressful. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I am so delighted to have the chance to write a second novel, but nothing beats the slow languorous pace of your first time!
2. Write what you like
Like I said, I had no idea about market trends when I was writing my first novel, but I did have an idea about my genre – after all aside from historical, contemporary romance is my favourite! I made the mistake in the beginning of trying to be like other people, of trying to write for a market I thought was out there. With your first book you get to write what you like and what you love. And if you don’t you will never find your voice. I never really found out who Julia (my heroine in THE MANY COLOURS OF US) was until I stopped caring about what anyone else was doing.
All new writers are scared of showing their work to other people, but it really wasn’t until I started to share my work with other writers that my writing really kicked up a gear. If you want your writing to be of the high-caliber literary agents are looking for, you must be brave enough to share. I have been incredibly lucky to meet amazing writers who have helped me so much along the way, giving constructive criticism and support.
I highly recommend the WoMentoring project – this project offers free mentoring by professional literary women to talented up and coming female writers.
I’m a mentor on the project and am currently accepting mentees – you can apply to be my mentee and I can help get whip your WIP into shape (apply here https://womentoringproject.co.uk/fiction-writers/rachel-burton/).
4. Be Persistent
When it comes to sending your novel out to agents, don’t give up. Remember that just because one agent rejects you, doesn’t mean the next one won’t fall in love with your book. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been rejected over the years and I know for a fact I was rejected twice by the agency that signed me in the end! Be persistent, keep sending your work out and do take on board any criticism or advice an agent might give you. And keep polishing your work all the time, keep honing your craft, keep getting better. Just keep writing.
5. Be Unequivocally You
This is probably the most important one of them all really. No matter what, no matter how hard it gets or how many rejections you might end up with always be true to yourself. You have a unique voice, don’t let it get silenced by comparison, or self-doubt. Use it to write what you love, to say the things that are important to you and to wear your heart on your sleeve. Because when you do get published those are the things your readers will love about you the most.
Rachel Burton has been making up stories since she first learned to talk. After many false starts she finally made one up that was worth writing down.
She has a BA in Classics and an MA in English and has never really known what to do when she grew up. She has worked as a waitress, a legal secretary and a yoga teacher.
She has spent most of her life between Cambridge and London but is currently on a sabbatical in the North with her boyfriend and three cats. The main loves of her life are The Beatles and very tall romantic heroes.
What if your life was built on lies?
Julia Simmonds had never been bothered about not knowing who her father was. Having temperamental supermodel, Philadelphia Simmonds, as a mother was more than enough. Until she discovers she’s the secret love-child of the late, great artist Bruce Baldwin, and her life changes forever.
Uncovering the secrets of a man she never knew, Julia discovers that Bruce had written her one letter, every year until her eighteenth birthday, urging his daughter to learn from his mistakes.
Julia begins to dig deeper into the mysterious past of her parents, opening up a history she’d never have imagined, but as she discovers the truth she needs to decide if she is willing to forgive and forget…
A huge thank you to Rachel for this wonderful guest post!
If you want to learn more about Rachel and her work click here.
photo credit: iNCH. <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/132770869@N08/17085296210″>inch_01</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>