A Writer's Apology

I’ve hosted a plethora of emotions when it comes to Quest for the Life Tree (QFTLT), the first book I penned. At the time I wrote it, I’d never had more than a high-school level creative writing course and the entire novel happened by accident or what I’d like to believe, by providence. In a whirlwind of blunders that I can see when looking back, I was encouraged to propose this book to a hybrid publisher. Within 24 hours, I had a contract in my hand. Knowing not what was behind door number one—the mysterious portal to the publication industry, I opened it and stepped right into the twilight zone.

I won’t go into every misstep, every high and every low of my writing journey, but I will say it’s been an adventure. Actually, the desire to capture a reader and catapult them into a new place of thought or action has become more like an addiction. (If you’re a writer—you get that.)

But back to QFTLT. To my jaw-dropping amazement, soon after making its rounds through the publisher’s editors and marketing department folks, QFTLT was deemed one of publisher’s Feature Titles and top eight books of the year. What? How did that happen to a debut author? The publisher then hand carried QFTLT to Barnes and Noble buyers in New York and QFTLT entered the very small percentage of books that every make it to the shelves of a major-brand, brick and mortar bookstore. Not that this has anything to do with success. There are e-book novels out there that have been read by thousands upon thousands of readers who’ve been inspired by the words they’ve devoured. But the initial success of QFTLT created this little false hope in my heart. I thought this was going to be an easy ride to the top of Mount Accomplished Writer.

It was no ride, but a rigorous climb. Soon after its release, a few readers gave me more than a little constructive feedback on QFTLT. One reader returned the book to me with her red-penned edits on practically every page.

What? But I thought…the publisher…was responsible for finding every typo and grammar oops. Turns out if I write it, I am ultimately responsible for the content. All of it.

And then came the first bad review. That reader wrote that the book was a heavy, choking sort-of allegory.

Heavy? Choking? I considered it a deep, allegorical experience. Had I overwritten it?

Unseasoned and naïve, I let the opinion of a few determine how I felt about my own work. I tanked. Seriously, I tumbled so low I decided I couldn’t possibly promote this horrible piece of work. I gave up on QFTLT, enrolled in creative writing classes and conferences, and found myself at a drawing board. I say “found” drawing board instead of “back to” drawing board because I didn’t start this journey at any board. My first novel was birthed in my heart where the Holy Spirit abides, not at a white board full of publishing-house standards.

I left QFTLT on the shelf of humiliation and moved on.

In the last few years, I’ve worked with editors, coaches, critique partners, and two literary agents. I’ve written four more books—books that have been edited to near death, plotted and replotted, scrubbed of my quirky voice, and passed around to every top-tier publishing company out there, all the while pretending that QFTLT didn’t exist. I feared that first, poorly written novel would hurt my credibility.

Sometimes the characters in QFTLT call to me from the dusty shelf I banished them to. There is more to their story, they say, not caring that I misspelled their names, or dropped a quotation mark from their passionate battle cries.

For nine years I’ve looked the other way whenever I’ve come across a QFTLT positive review or request for the sequel. For nine years, I’ve worked hard to create newer, deeper characters while QFTLT warriors yearned to get back to fighting for their king.

They don’t deserve my embarrassment. They, after all, created the first step in this journey of storying. This book deserves to be read by whomever desires to do so.

This is my public apology to the characters, myself, and to the readers who couldn’t get past the typos. I also apologize to that tender Holy Spirit who so often nudges this clueless fool. I am sorry! I own up to my work, quirky and passionate as it is.

QFTLT’s publisher went belly-up but I’ve put this book back on my website. It can still be bought through Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Quest-Life-Lau...

If you decide to give this book a read, thank you in advance. If you’re a reader that is distracted by a few mistakes, hold on, I have books that are polished up nicely coming your way. And to every writer that has sent his or her work out into the world and had some of it boomerang back to slap you in the face, I feel your pain. But remember, opinions are a cheap commodity because everyone has plenty on hand. Don't let them have more value than they should.

Keep going. Keep writing.

By the way, I do have another book coming out. Watch for it in 2020.

Living the dream,

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Published on August 28, 2019 20:25 Tags: writing-mistakes-publishing
Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)    post a comment »
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message 1: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Joslin Four more books! That’s Awesome! I can’t wait to read them:). BTW I loved QFTLT🎉. A sequel would be wonderful. Some words must be spoken. Trudge on through the rapids. You have His strength as you go. Ever a fan! Shirley J:).

message 2: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Westlake As always - you say the perfect thing, Shirley, my friend. Love and miss you but know - when we are eighty, we shall sit and sip coffee and say things like, "we knew we'd be here one day."

message 3: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Westlake Shirley wrote: "Four more books! That’s Awesome! I can’t wait to read them:). BTW I loved QFTLT🎉. A sequel would be wonderful. Some words must be spoken. Trudge on through the rapids. You have His strength as you ..."

see the next comment- I love ya girl!

message 4: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Joslin Looking forward to it❤️!

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