An Apology and Some Advice

I had every intention of updating my blog with more consistency, but… I haven’t. I’m sorry! I was going to do a lot of reading in my genre and do book reviews of sorts, but to be honest, I haven’t had time to read much. Instead, I’ve been working on writing and publishing, which is my passion anyway. Even so, I should have blogged about it. (So now I will!)

Twitter. That’s been the name of the game the past few weeks. I’ve never been all that active on Twitter before. It’s taken me a long time to get my footing in the writing world. For many things in my life, I’ve had the luxury of having mentors to help guide me until I find my own way—training wheels, of sorts. However, with writing, I’ve had to figure things out on my own. That hasn’t always been easy; I’ve had to make a lot of mistakes to get to where I am now, and I’m still far from where I’d like to be. It’s a process. The best thing I’ve been able to do for myself, though, is to get more involved on Twitter.

It’s hard to understand how Twitter can be beneficial. 140 character commentary? Come on. But really, it’s true what they say about the importance of networking, not necessarily for getting a step up but to find people who are walking the same path you are. I’ve learned more in the last month about the writing community than I had in the year or so before. Because of the Twitter community, I’ve entered three different writing contests, found an online critique group, won a free five-page critique, gotten invaluable feedback, and gotten to know some incredible writers, editors, and agents.

If you’re not involved with Twitter, I would seriously suggest signing up. Most agents have Twitters and post their manuscript wishlists as well as comment on some of the queries they find in their inboxes. Of course, it’s also a place to commiserate with other writers trudging through the query trenches. If you get yourself on Twitter, check out the #10queries/#tenqueries, #MSWL, and #askagent hashtags to get started. And, if you’re interested in contests, right now the #PitchtoPublication and #NewAgent feeds are bustling! (They also have great advice for ALL writers.)

As for the status of my publishing journey, I’ve gotten a few agent requests and my fair share of query rejections. Overall, I’m happy with where things are. I’m starting a new WIP, which is terrifying, but my main focus is getting my finished novel in the best shape possible.

What tools do you utilize in your writing journey? I’d love to know! I’m on the hunt for great resources.

Commenting on Craft: Part Four

To get an idea of what this series is about, start here. (And you can check out parts two and three, too, if you’d like.)

This section of The Craft of Research deals with the drafting process, which to me is so intimidating that I sometimes forgo it altogether. (I know! So terrible.) With an undertaking this large, though, I understand the necessity of clearing the pipes, so to speak, before anything useful comes through.

That being said, let’s see what Booth and his friends think about drafting. (Although, looking at the quotes I selected now, I’m realizing that this is more about properly citing sources, which isn’t something I have to do for this draft. Shh, just go with it.)

But evidence never speaks for itself, especially not long quotations or complex sets of numbers. You must speak for such evidence by introducing it with a sentence stating what you want your readers to get out of it.

First of all, let me say how relieved I am that I don’t have to introduce “complex sets of numbers,” because that would be terrible. That being said, this is something to important to keep in mind when using any type of source or data. I mean, the idea behind using others’ work is that you want it to be meaningful in the frame of your argument, so if you’re quoting something important and your reader says, “So what?”, that’s a huge problem. The book uses a great example on page 191 (I won’t reproduce it here because it’s rather long), showing exactly how vague introductions to quotes leave the argument unproven and frustrating to the reader.

If the person you borrowed from read your report, would she recognize your words or ideas as her own, including paraphrases, summaries, or even general ideas or methods? If so, you must cite that source and enclose any of her exact words in quotation marks or set them off in a block quotation. No exceptions, no excuses.

Plagiarism is scary stuff, and it’s something about which I’m extremely paranoid. For me, the idea of imagining your sources reading your work really resonates with me, and that makes it easier to identify what needs citing. Honestly, I tend to over-cite–maybe I get exCITEd when I’m doing research (in the distance, an angry mob of pun-haters gathers), but imagining an author of a source reading my draft gives me a strong sense of what needs to be cited and what is more common knowledge in the field.

Now the only thing left to do is start the first draft of my primary analysis… and to outrun all these people with pitchforks trying to break down my door.

Updates, New Things, Etc.

I’ve been MIA. A lot of this has been deliberate; most literary agencies close for the entire month of December, so I haven’t had much to report. For those of you keeping score, the other two full requests I had out came back as no’s. I think part of me needed to digest that before starting with a fresh slate in 2015.

And so I have. In the past week I’ve sent out maybe ten more query letters–a brand-new query letter, mind you–and have once again taken the knife to my beloved novel.

This blog was started for the sole purpose of documenting my harrowing (read: long) journey through the querying process. However, as I’m also a college student gearing up to do my final research paper for my major (ten points for whoever can guess the major), the focus is going to change. Well, maybe it’s better to say that I’m adding a second focus: how to do research.

I’m taking a class called Senior Seminar, which is essentially a class that teaches life skills to English majors (did you guess it?) who are about to spread their wings and fly into the scary job world. As part of the class, I’m required to keep a blog of my assignments, most of which are geared toward how to do research, how to read academically, etc.

So, if you’re into that sort of thing, stick around! I’ll still be posting about the querying process, but now you get the added bonus (FOR FREE) of gaining insight into the completely opposite form of writing. Yes, creative writers can write research! At least I’m hoping that’s the case. We’ll find out.

This is still a writing¬† blog. See? I haven’t lied to you. Yet.