Last night I had dinner with the amazing Gin Phillips, local author of two nationally successful novels – The Well and the Mine and Come In and Cover Me. She just wrapped up her latest book tour and is now knee-deep into her next project. Gin and I share some mutual close friends, though we’ve never spent any one-on-one time until last night. Her birthday was a few days ago as well, so we first talked about what had done to celebrate being one year older. Gin also has a 7-month old baby, so you can imagine that her life is pretty busy these days.
When we got to the topic of the process of writing a book, I just laid it all out there for her. I told her that I had been wanting to write one for years, and that I finally had a solid idea & outline… plus almost 2 chapters written. I confessed my concern that it was taking me such a looooong time to have so little done, and was that normal? I also told her that felt inadequate sometimes b/c I don’t know some basic things about writing in long form, and I’ve had to go back and redo things because of my lack of knowledge. She told me that her first book took the longest, several years in fact, and it was never published. The Well and the Mine was her second effort, and it was rejected by so many agents and publishers before it was even taken on by someone. As you know, The Well and the Mine has gone on to be extremely successful and was picked up by Penguin Publishing before all was said and done. I have no doubt that the sky is the limit for Gin from here on out. Before we met for dinner last night, she also told me that it would not be advisable to send out my outline & completed chapters until I have a solid rough draft finish. The reason why is because so many things can change from point A to point B…and it only gets better with more polishing. Plus, it is already difficult enough to shop a fairly completed book, the odds of getting the best shot that I could would be even less with only a few chapters. I felt better getting some solid direction from someone who has been-there-done-that.
As far as time is concerned, she said she knows authors that took 15 years to write a book (which won’t be my case, I assure you…I don’t have the patience). There are no predetermined rules or expectations. However, what the publishers do look for is marketability, and she felt like my premise was a strong & interesting one. I do too, actually. The hard part for me is the formatting, hole-filling, and motivation to keep pushing when it gets hard…to be completely honest. But I’m not one to give up, so it will come to fruition all in due time. I left our dinner feeling re-energized and validated. New things just take time to master, and I’m a fast learner.