November 12th, 2006

me 2011

My Life as a Writer, Pt. 3

I originally hoped to major in "Creative Writing" in university. I picked my university out of the three in Toronto mainly because it was the only one offering a creative writing program. I figured it'd be great, meeting other people who loved writing, getting critiques, writing stories instead of essays for assignments.

The only problem was, I didn't get in.

To be allowed into the creative writing program (which only accepted 25 students each year), I had to submit a portfolio to get into an intro to creative writing course with 100 other students (who all wanted one of those 25 spots), and then submit another portfolio at the end of the year. The second portfolio, plus my marks from the intro course, were supposed to decide things.

The month after final exams, I got a letter telling me I hadn't been accepted... into the intro course. Confused (after all, I'd just completed the intro course), I called up the department. After some hemming and hawing, they told me the letter had been mistaken--it should have said I hadn't made it into the major.

That was the final word on it. A few things made me suspicious: the mistake in the letter; the confusion when I'd called; the fact that when I went to pick up my portfolio the secretary found it in the box with the applications to the intro course, not with the applications to the major. My parents wanted to call up the university and try to get my portfolio re-considered. But by that time, I was over it. I'd already had some concerns about the program--mainly because it seemed to be focused on "literary" writing rather than the genre writing I was doing (the head of the program, who gave our lectures, made disparaging remarks about "popular" fiction).

So I shrugged it off, and switched my major to psychology, took lots of English and ancient history as electives, and ended up with tons of story ideas based on the material in my courses. It's hard to say, but I think it was better that I didn't get into the writing program.

University kept me busy, so I did most of my writing over the winter and summer holidays. I put together a couple of on-line projects, trying to incorporate other people's talents (one included short flash animations with voice actors), but neither got very far, and I shifted back to more traditional mediums. As I got closer to graduation, I made an effort to send out stories regularly, trying several markets, and got a few things published in small zines. I advertised and got together a bunch of people for an in-person speculative fiction critique group.

I queried three agents about the novel I wrote in my last year, but by the time the form rejections arrived I'd stopped feeling the novel was marketable. I wrote a chapter book (the only thing I've written so far that's aimed at kids younger than teens), queried about thirty agents over several months, had some requests, but ultimately everyone thought it needed to be fleshed out more. That story ended up in the trunk, because I'd started working on In Memory Of.

Which is the novel that ultimately got me an agent. And tomorrow I expect to be getting her editorial notes on it, and in a few weeks, muse-willing, I will be sending the final-final draft back to her (not to be confused with the final-final-final draft that would come after an editor makes suggestions, or the final-final-final-final draft after a copy-editor gets through with it *crosses fingers*) and suddenly, there will be the real, immediate possibility of a publishing deal.

I am very excited, and also a little scared.

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Okay, I'm done with the autobiographical babbling. ;) If anyone wants to know about anything in particular (the querying, the revision process, the critique group, whatever), just say so. I'll feel better about rambling on if I know someone in theory is interested in what I'm rambling about.