Lessons Learned

Apple and Book by JacobVanVoorenPhoto

Today I am working on my query. This is the first day I’ve worked on it in a month. This is the first day I’ve done any writing in a month. I’m confessing this for two reasons.

Reason One: If I admit I’ve been slacking, I’m more likely to get back to work.

Reason Two: There is a lesson to be learned here.

Just over a month ago, I thought I had my query pretty much squared away. I showed it to a couple people and found that no, it needed work. And really it didn’t just need work, it needed an overhaul. It’s frustrating to work on something, think it’s done and then realize you really need to completely redo it. But that’s life as a writer.

Luckily for me, I have amazing online friends and colleagues that gave me great advice on how to fix my query. Almost exactly a month ago, I sat down at my writing club and for three hours I tore words from my head and fixed them to the computer screen in front of me. It was painful to the point where now and then, I would get up and pace in the cafe because I couldn’t find the word I was looking for. But at the end of three hours I’d done it! I had a great, unique query opening, a couple of paragraphs long, that fit my story and got the astounded approval of everyone in our little group. I closed my husband’s laptop and went home happy.

Now rather than finish it up that night, I decided to give it a week to settle so I could go back and look on it with fresh eyes and see any mistakes that I might have missed while writing it. Then I could finish my query and send it back to my online friends to see what they thought.

A week passed and my husband and I were working on various things after we’d put our kids to bed. I asked him to email me the file, as I had forgotten my jump drive the night of writing club and saved it to his laptop instead. At least…I thought I’d saved it. Apparently I hadn’t. Or I saved the wrong file. Or computer gremlins ate it. Regardless of what happened, the file was gone. Not just partially there or corrupted, but simply not present.

Needless to say I was heartbroken. All that work lost. And since I’d waited a week to look at it, the only part of it I remembered was the first two sentences. After an exhaustive search of almost every file on the computer, we gave up and I was forced to admit that I need to start from scratch…again.

But I didn’t. Instead I avoided it any way I could. I read, I drafted articles, I played on Twitter, I played on Pinterest, I played on Minecraft, anything but think about my story and its query.

This was a dumb idea, and very immature really. Rather than attack the problem, I let it get the better of me. If I’d thought hard enough about the query when I first noticed the file was missing, I might have been able to remember more of it than I do now. But more than that, I’m now a month further in the future and I still need to finish my query. So yeah, not smart.

The lesson here is don’t let disappointments get the better of you. Writing has its ups and downs, but if you can push through the downs, the ups are worth it.

Also make sure you really save your work. And back it up. Every. Time.

Title image by JacobVanVoorenPhoto.