Taking Stock 

Before we dive any further into my writing journey, let me bring you up to speed on where I’m up to, what I’ve done so far, and what still needs to be done. 

The first “book” I wrote was a spy novel about two young girls (my friend and I) fighting an evil scientist who was selling poisoned sweets. I started writing the story somewhere around the climax, wrote to the end, then went back to the beginning and never actually filled in the gaping hole in the middle. I was eleven. 

The next few years, I wrote stories for my sister’s Christmas presents. I covered a range of badly-researched genres, including another spy novel (a fan-fiction), a historical fiction and murder mystery (in the same book!), an “epic” fantasy, a time-travelling science fiction and now, in The Mistwaes Home, a portal fantasy. 

Each of those stories had good things in them: plot twists I remember with fondness, cool fight scenes I’m still proud of… and each is still pretty terrible. 

In those days, I didn’t take my writing very seriously. I dreamed of it being read by my grandchildren and studied by future students (yes, I believed I was writing nothing less than classic literature), but never learned craft or outlining. In high school I was put onto K. M. Weiland’s blog Helping Writers Become Authors, and I started to realise that writing is a process, and there are ways to write well. I started to pay more attention to the way my favourite authors wrote, and began to mimic their voices in my writing.

When I started uni, I also joined an online group called The Young Writers Workshop. I had just finished the manuscript of An Immutable Past and thought it might actually hold promise, so the first thing I looked up in the Workshop was how to edit. I did about ten rounds of edits on that book, and amidst that, I started drafting The Mistwaes Home

Because AIP had required so much effort to edit, with very little results, I decided to try outlining TMH before the first draft rather than after. But trying to work out the story structure was making my head spin. I didn’t know what my characters would decide to do in the climax, so how could I plot it? I brainstormed Shalton’s goal, why he wanted it, and who or what might block him from getting it, and then plotted each inevitable scene, heading toward a climax where Shalton would have to sacrifice something close to him to get what he wanted. 

It still took a while to draft it. I lost confidence, and my time was taken up by uni and the musical. I signed up for the Young Writers Workshop’s big brother programme, The Author Conservatory, and hoped to have TMH finished by the time I’d started that. Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened. (This became a problem, because I had to try to work on a brand new Author project, while my heart was still in TMH. </3)

It was through Author that I finally learned (proper) outlining, and I’m working on my outline for Earth and Other now, while I secretly edit and work on TMH

Through K. M. Weiland’s blog, an editor has offered to look over TMH, as part of setting up her new business. I’m so thankful for this opportunity, both to have a practice run for how the editing process works, and to have her eyes and wisdom applied to TMH. While I’m excited for it, I know there’s a lot of work to be done on it… but I’m not sure where, and I don’t have the confidence to try to fix it without a second, more experienced, opinion. 

Looking back on the blessings and opportunities God has given me, I’m excited for where we’re heading. There are always doubts and worries in my mind. Who will buy my books? What if I’m not ready yet? What if I’m making a mistake? What sets my books apart from the millions of books already in bookstores, libraries, op shops, and Amazon? 

But my being here isn’t a whim or an accident. No, I’m not yet ready to publish. But I’m working toward it! God has brought me to this point, and if he wants me published, he’ll get me there. 

Tell me your story! What have been important turning points, opportunities and challenges in getting you where you are now?

Published by Debbie Coll

I'm a storyteller, songwriter and author who loves God, fairy tales and music. I write about tales, creative tips and process on my blog, debbiecoll.com.

2 thoughts on “Taking Stock 

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