Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Writer's Maze: A Life Changing Decision

A little over two years ago I decided to quit working and start doing what I love – writing. One would think I’d start blogging from the get go, but that’s not the case. This is my first blog and I have no idea what I want to say. Is it a bad sign if a writer has nothing to say?
I read blogs – blogs about losing weight, love, opinions, politics etc. etc. BLAH BLAH BLAH and a big YAWN! I don’t want to bore you with more of the same, with a little luck and whole lot of tenacity maybe I can find something fresh to share with you.
First, let me introduce myself, my name is Candie Leigh and I’m just as lost as the rest of you in this exciting game of life. I’m the ultimate optimist and that‘s where I’m going to start, the ups and downs of a writer’s life and how I handle them. I’m going to allow you to read about my mistakes as I take this journey, but since it’s already begun here’s where I started.

Following My Dreams
I’ve tried my hand at too many things to list but here’s a sample. School bus driver, salon owner, artist, nail tech, news reporter, columnist, advertising sales and even Disneyland Cast Member. Most of those things have nothing in common with each other but they all shaped my dream and contributed to my imagination, but none of them satisfied my need to be as creative as I wanted to be.

I know you’re thinking “isn’t an artist the ultimate creator?” For me it wasn’t enough, it was only a piece of my puzzle. I could draw or paint new worlds but I could never get the details of that world in the piece. My artist’s “idea book” was filled with thoughts and concepts that just didn’t work on my proverbial canvas. I had this story, this plot, and these characters rattling around in my brain for years, maybe ever since I was a child playing in the back wood of my Pacific North West childhood home. I kept searching for books that would quench my thirst for this type of an adventure, but alas there were none.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great stories out there and I’ve read and enjoyed many of them. There just wasn’t my story and my characters. When they eventually infiltrated and dominated my dreams and then my every conscious thought, I knew I had to write it down. Over the next few weeks I wrote an outline thinking that would stifle the fantasy realm dancing through my brain enough that get back to my “real” life. Not even close, it opened a flood gate. I couldn’t stop, this new world of fiction consumed every waking and sleeping thought I had. I even had to keep a note pad in my bed which I would find the next morning with huge scribbles plastered across the pages. After a few more months of this and an array of notes, files and stacks of research books, I could longer function in my “real” world. I should have been able to collect disability because the burning need to write had become completely immobilizing. And though we would suffer financially, my wonderful husband agreed I needed to write my books full-time, and that’s when my life changed forever and I can never go back. I have never been as happy as I am sitting in my pajamas, with my coffee and carmex at my side, in front of my keyboard pounding away for hours to the point of wearing the letters off my keypad, I’m on my third in two years.
I delved in with my brilliance burning through page after page and congratulated myself on how clever I was. I didn’t let anyone else read it though, until I hired a friend (who is also a publisher) to edit my manuscript. She was very kind to this first time writer and didn’t tell me to throw it in the trash, although she did say that most writers shelve their first project as a learning experience and move on. Ouch! Shelve all of this brilliance? How could I? It’s so smart and clever; the world is waiting for this story. My name will be in lights, they’ll make a movie and it will become a franchise!
In an effort to save my series of four books, I revised and I revised, and I revised and I revised.
Finally, I thought I’d see how I was doing and queried my first agent. Nothing, no response. I rewrote my query and tried three agents. It worked, I got my first requested partial. I sent it to her immediately. That was back in July, I haven’t heard a thing since and I refuse to be needy and nudge. I’ll just wait my turn. If she doesn’t like it enough to call after all this time, she’s not the agent for me. Since then I’ve queried a few more times with that query, revised my first 50 pages, written half of book two, revised my query three or four more times. Queried another half dozen agents. Rejection after rejection or worse no reply at all. Then one day I woke up and decided I’d change everything, book one and book two were split up wrong. With queries pending and pitch session looming, I jumped out of bed and stole the first four chapters of book two, spliced it to the end of book one and started the processes of scrapping 10,000 words from my newly named ToR Sa BEFORE THE REIGN manuscript.

… And this is where I am half way through another revise. I leave for the Dallas Fort Worth Writers’ Conference one week from today and I have no polished manuscript, no pitch or synopsis to reflect my changes and no clue what I’m doing. Tomorrow morning I’m reading my first five pages for my new critique group.
I’m open to advice . . . unless you want to tell me to give up, that I won’t do. I owe it to my insane imagination to finish what I started.


  1. Great job, Candie. I'll link my website back to yours. I have at least...oh TWO regular readers, not counting my mom. (well, yeah, you'd better count my mom.)
    We are sisters in this. I even sent my query to bookends, so let's keep our fingers crossed!

  2. Thank you and I'm glad you queried bookends, I think you're a good match for them. :-)
    Post a link to your blog here so I can add yours too.

  3. Welcome to the dark side Candie!
    I am proud to be your second follower :)
    and I am incredibly jealous you got the opportunity to quit you "day" job and chase your dream. Best of luck to you. Can't wait to see you at DFWCON!

  4. Candie great blog and good luck! As long as you know where you are going in your novel you should be fine. Focus that in your pitch. I pitched at WDC and they wanted it short and sweet. Plus it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. You will learn alot at the conference which will help you with the direction of your ms. My advice is not to rush. Your thoughts and ideas need to marinate to make sure everything blends well. Good Luck!

  5. Thanks Jessica! That is really helpful, I will tighten and squeeze until it's sweet and to the point.