Before there was AbsoluteWrite, there was nothing.
I’m exaggerating. Before AbsoluteWrite, there was a little blue room and my computer and the cat. There was a perpetual cup of coffee, perennially cold. There was one window, shade pulled down. There was the door, shut. There was a story in my head, and another one, and another one.
I wrote alone. Revised alone. The former was a furious endeavor. Exhausting. The latter was brief; cosmetic at best. When I finished a novel, I sent the file to OfficeMax and paid for a copy, brought it home and gave it to my husband to read. Then my mom. Then my sisters–oldest to youngest, as is tradition.
Then I wrote a query letter and sent it to some of the most well-respected, powerhouse literary agents out there. And waited for my big break. And waited. And waited. . .
OMG, I screwed up on so many levels. I shared my novels with people dear to me who were not writers. I drafted a query letter without having a fucking CLUE and squandered opportunity after opportunity, sending it out in droves, a plethora of qls flooding literary agencies coast-to-coast. Mind-numbing horror floating through cyberspace, landing on desks of agents who must have taken one look and (metaphorically) tossed that sucker in the trash, or lit it on fire, or slit their own throats. I had no significant feedback; ergo, I thought my shit didn’t stink.
Then I found AbsoluteWrite. I won’t bore you with accolades. And I won’t say it’s the perfect site, the perfect set-up. I have nits, I’ve gotten in some hot water, I’ve screwed up a few times, paid for it (still am). Not saying I don’t screw up now ’cause I do, often–sometimes, spectacularly. But I am not a lonely, clueless writer anymore. Before AbsoluteWrite, I wrote in a vaccuum, or wrapped in gauze. Not anymore. I have learned so effing much it’s not even funny, but it is mind-boggling: not only have I’ve learned so much, but I’m now aware that there is so much yet to learn about about the craft of writing, the business of writing. My writing has improved significantly: I’m more thoughtful, more careful with my choices, more cognizent of style and voice and consistency, tension, characterization. . .
I met writers.
Not actually. Virtually. Doesn’t matter, they’re there and this is what they do. They get it. All kinds of writers, too, some are so damn talented it’s almost scary. Some are newbies learning the ropes. A lot are where I am and we help and support each other. I’ve posted my stuff, excerpts from CHERRY and EFFIN’ ALBERT and I’ve received some great suggestions and comments. I’ve found beta readers who have read my work and given me such tremendous advice, unbelieveable. I’ve turned a piece of shit into a decent–more than decent–query letter, thanks to the folks at AW’s Query Letter Hell forum. An amazing forum. Can’t say enough about it. I just drafted a synopsis, for God’s sake, I was scared to death but I hammered it out, thanks to the writers at AW.
I met writers. It bears repeating because that’s the best thing about AbsoluteWrite. I’ve conversed with a lot of writers for whom I’ve developed a real fondness. Some, I adore. I have a wall, I didn’t even know what that was, this public message thingie. People can send you comments publically and you can respond publically and why am I explaining? I was probably the only person on earth who had no clue what the hell that was. I started a wall because AW is somehow getting me to open up, try new stuff. Like this blog, for instance.
Back to the wall thing. My first message was from me, to me, saying, Hey, if nobody writes to me on this thing I’m writing to myself. I shouldn’t have worried. Right now, on my wall, there are over 240 messages from a bunch of different people, telling me all kinds of stuff, offering support, bugging me, joking around. It’s fun, you know it? Plus I write on walls, leave my mark, as they say. Thinking of three, four writers right now with whom I often converse, for whom I’m so indebted, of whom I can’t say enough wonderful things. Even though they sometimes drive me nuts, I think I love these people. I never met them. It doesn’t matter. How can you not love somebody who writes, “I missed my chance to poop in Cordoba”?? I mean, really.
So thankful that I found AbsoluteWrite. And to think I didn’t know what I was missing.