2012 was a great year for me! Not only did my husband and I get stationed closer to our home state, we also got pregnant with our first child. The latter is a more recent development and we couldn’t be happier.
As for my life as a writer in 2012 I can honestly say I learned more in the last year than I did throughout four years of college. This could possibly be because with as passionate as I am about writing, I’m constantly looking to improve my craft, my knowledge of the business, and expand my contacts in the writing community. So, of course I try harder than I did, say, in dumb math class in college :)
First I completed my second novel Judges and after several drafts and edits from trusted family members, I hit the blogosphere to find fresh blood--I mean critique partners. I’d never had a critique partner before, but had critiqued plenty of other people’s work throughout college, so I knew the process. I was nervous at first because you never know what you’re going to get when you exchange work with someone. I’ve had bad luck in the past where the writer wasn’t ready to get constructive criticism and showed it by emailing me 20 times a day for a week (not exaggerating) to tell me how little I knew about writing. So, it was a big step to go out and search for that perfect critique partner, but I got a stroke of luck after reading about a sort of Critique Partner Dating Service that was happening over on Miss Snarks blog. After a few emails and chapter test runs, I found the one! We wrote in the same genre, had the same critiquing styles, and were completely open to any and all comments, both having developed a thick skin throughout our years of writing. She helped bring Judges to a whole new level, as I helped her with her awesome MS.
I would recommend this route to all writers who have a MS that is beyond the first draft stages. The great thing about finding a critique partner and helping with each other’s work is how much you learn! I’ve found so many little details that I mark in other’s work all the time and still make that mistake in my own work! By finding it in other’s, I’ve learned to correct it now in my own writing. Just as when I pose questions in the comments of another’s MS, I find myself asking the same ones as I go through my own personal edits. The things you learn while critiquing other’s work is invaluable and really endless. I’m constantly learning a new trick, or word, or style that I can add to my writing arsenal, and I wouldn’t be able to do that without the critiques I’ve done over the past year. I guess it is along the same lines with the rule about reading in your genre as much as possible--I’m a firm believer of this too--and feel that both critiquing in your genre and reading in it only opens up your scope that much more.
I’ve also got to participate in an awesome contest called PitchWars! And have met some amazing people and read and critiqued some really incredible work. Also, if you’re going to take my advice and find a critique partner, a really awesome new site has opened up where you can do just that. It’s called CPseek and you can read about it on the amazing Brenda Drake's blog here.
Another awesome thing I learned in 2012 was what it feels like to finally gain representation from an agent. I’m still reeling from that experience! Brittany Howard has taught me so much about editing, constructing, and the process of the publishing world. I’m extremely lucky to have a mentor like her and through her I met my awesome agency sisters! We cheer each other on and help each other when handling rejection and it is such a blessing to have that kind of support team! We went on submission a few months ago and are anxiously waiting responses from editors at publishing houses. (Another thing learned--this business is all about timing and that timing isn’t in the fast lane) ;)
2012 was a wonderful year and I hope it was for you as well. Whatever stage of writing you are in as this new year starts off--whether first sentence, first draft, or umpteenth draft--I wish you many bursts of creativity, clarity when it comes to editing, and luck when it comes to finding that perfect critique partner!