Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mistakes Were Made

by Allison Pang

The problem with determining career mistakes is that so often we don't realize what they are until it’s too late. Sometimes it's not even a mistake as much an issue with timing. If only we'd done X, or said Y, maybe things would have turned out differently.

I suppose I've done some of those more typical writing ones. Like Jeffe, I queried too early  - though I somehow got ridiculously lucky...but I admit to feeling a tad overwhelmed during my first set of live pitches. Especially given that I had just finished the rough draft to A Brush of Darkness the week before. And of course everyone told me, that hey - the editors would ask for the first three chapters and I'd have all summer to polish it up, yadda yadda yadda. And of course, one of the editors asked for the full. Which sent me into a tailspin over the next few weeks and months as I busted my ass to try to polish the book. 

And that was a bit of a disaster (you can ask Jeffe - she was my beta during that time frame.) But I did the best I could and sent it off...and heard nothing. Which spurred me into doing another round of revisions at a better pace -but I'd learned my lesson there. Query nothing before its time, as they say. 

In the meantime, though, I think my biggest mistake actually had to do with a co-writing project I'd started before BoD. And I know I've talked about this in the past, but there are still days when I can't help but think I should have done things differently. 

As noted above - projects often have different baking times.  Although some of my fondest memories were working on this novel with a co-writer, we had different perspectives – on genre, on heat level…and on the story itself. 

Not that it started out that way, of course. Like most things, it started out fun. But over time, we grew apart, both in direction and commitment. Part of that may have been because we didn’t have a specific plan in mind when we started the project…but in the end it was because we were “cooking” at different temperatures. 

Neither of us was published, but at some point for me it was no longer just a project between friends. I wanted to get published. I wanted this project to be the vehicle that got us there. 

And I tried my damnest to make that happen. But the more I tried to force it, the less she wanted to do it. And there’s things that are more personal that probably contributed to that, but in the end she didn’t want what I wanted. Or at least not at the time I wanted it. 

Different cook times, as I said. 

The thing about mistakes though, is learning from them. As painful as that time was, I learned just how important it is to have the same goal when you’re working on project. Part of that is allowing things to unfold in their own time. 

(It’s a hard lesson to learn, but a good one for publishing in general – things happen in their own time and at their own pace.)

In the meantime, I’ve taken that lesson to heart, particularly with my new collab project – not only did I plan things out with my collaborator, but I’ve learned to let things slide a bit. 

Part of my issue the first time around is that I knew deep down that something was wrong…which led to a deep insecurity and resulted in me being a bit of a nag. I refuse to let that happen this time – I’ve got to trust that my collab partner will do her part as needed. At the very least, I’m a lot more relaxed about it and that’s a pretty good place to be.

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