Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When Writing Fails, Facepalm

Facepalm--to bring the palm to one's face as an expression of mixed humor and disbelief, embarassment, disgust, or shame. For example, when one is caught off-guard with a particularly bad pun. (definition found here)

"What's the biggest mistake you've made writing, querying, or publishing?"

This week, YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday topic is about mistakes in writing, and boy have I made some in the past! Even just remembering, I want to facepalm. In a previous post that can be found here, I talked about the first book I've ever written. I attempted it twice, the first time when I was about 12; it came out to be only 13 pages long. Well, at least I tried, right?

A few years later, when I was 15, I found the pages and remembered how much I loved the story, so I decided to give it another shot. First I wrote it out by hard copy using about eight notebooks and packets of pens--no exaggeration--and then I set out on the journey of typing it. All together it took me about a year and a half. I was proud of myself--I actually wrote a whole book! I stuck out the agony, hard work, and patience to finish it.

About the same time I was finishing the book, I done some research on a favorite  author of mine, Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight Saga. On her website, you can find her story of how she got published. I love that story, but as you scroll down, you see she nearly had problems publishing her book because of the word length being too long at 130K. My book was 240K. Uhm....FACEPALM!

After a while of thinking, I told myself that length might not matter if the agents like the story enough, so I queried away. Another bad idea. I still can't write a decent query letter, much less how bad it was a few years ago.

When I received nothing but rejections, I decided, "Well, maybe it is too big." So I did something else and hoped it would fix the problem:  I split the book into two. It certainly didn't help. Surprisingly enough, it didn't exactly leave the book plotless, but using the same old query letter didn't emphasize the book any. Eventually I realized that my writing needed a lot more work, so I have shoved that book in the back burner to rewrite later. I still love the story and the characters so much it hurt to have to tell them, "Not right now, guys. Sorry."

As of right now my WIP is going okay; my only problem is it is merely being run on scene ideas instead of a full plot, and I don't want to cut anything out even though  I know I have to. *Sigh* What's a girl to do?

Oh, yeah! Facepalm.

And here is this picture, just 'cause I thought it was humorous.


Have you had any facepalm moments with your writing, querying, or publishing? I certainly would love to hear them :)


  1. LOVE the Simpsons' picture! I've had way too many facepalms to count in writing, and I wrote one of those way too long stories too! Mine was 175K, and I eventually cut it to 99K, but talk about torture. It's so hard to kill off a darlin' or take out entire scenes! But that's where critique partners come in. And a lot of patience.

    Good luck with your journey!

  2. Hah, I know how you feel with the upsettingly short first-story-ever. I wrote mine when I was eleven--it was only thirty pages. ><

    I don't know the quality of your stories, but I applaud you for 240K words. I've never broken 95K--not a bad thing, but I always feel like something's missing...

    Also: I laughed so hard at the facepalm picture.

  3. I think everyone's first book is short. I wrote mine when I was ten and it was fourteen pages long. YEAH.

    Still, it must have been really surprising to swing from something so short to something so long. Still, it's good practise! And now you know to keep your WIP to a much shorter word count.

  4. Yes, "too long" is often a first-timer least you realized it...some writers cling to that high word count despite all the instant rejections.

    Sounds like this next project will work out better...sometimes it's easier to add than cut.

  5. I love the face palm picture! But I must say I'm really impressed. Not only did you write your first novel at 15, it was 245,000 words. That's an accomplishment! And in long hand! i'm not going to lie, I'm slightly worried about early onset carpal tunnel for you. Good luck on your new project!

    Happy writing!

  6. Oh my gosh I love your images!

    I'm also super impressed---to have the patience to stick with a book and finish it? Then do a major rewrite of making it into two books?? That shows that you have the determination and patience to keep going, which is the #1 absolute most important thing about trying to get published.

  7. Thank you guys for all the comments and support :D I'm glad you enjoyed the post and the pictures.

    @Alison--I'm glad I'm not alone with the over writing lol. I agree, it is hard to take out scenes and characters. It's absoloute misery!

    @Francesca--Thanks so much for the follow :D As for quality, I have to admit with my first book one of my flaws was being a little verbose and repetative. I try to avoid that now.

    @Georgia--It was surprising for it turn out that big; I never expected it lol. And I agree, the practice was worth all the work.

    @Jennifer--I have to admit I still hang to the high word count, even though I shouldn't :/ Especially for YA. *Sigh* It's a habit. Lol.

    @Icountwords--Lol I do have to admit I did have some problems with my hand when I finished writing it out. I don't write so much in long hand anymore, but I'm starting to reconsider. It made writing a little easier. (Trees wont like it very much though lol.) I need to practice ambidexterity so I can write with both hands lol.

    @Sarah--Thank you :D But boy is it hard to keep that determination and patience sometimes lol. But that's part of the job. It's worth it.

    Thanks again guys! Good luck with all your writing!

  8. What Sarah said!

    Also that last pic = win.

  9. 240K words!!! That's intense!!! I know exactly what you mean about loving a story and characters so much that it's hard to put them aside for a while. Been there, done that and it's not easy.

  10. The last pic made me laugh! :) I like that one! And yes, i have LOTS of FACEPALM moments too! Too many too mention lol. When I was younger, I used to dream of becoming a well-known writer, until I entered high school. That's when I decided I want to be an engineer instead. Yeah I know, it's way too different. But maybe what we call "passion on something" has a way of coming back to you even after so many years of setting them aside. And I admit that's a facepalm moment. I still want to be a writer (I realized). One of my short novel, I used during my entrance test for our HS newspaper. I got accepted, ranked 2nd, and assigned as a feature writer. I wrote my first chic-lit novel when I was 14. But then nothing... facepalm! I sometimes regret why I didn't pursue writing. I don't know.. I'm still a bit confused about that one. It's still a dream you know. (yeah, until now...*sigh) FACEPALM! (I enjoyed your post Aimee :) Sorry for long comment.. *wink.

  11. @Kate and @Rachel--thank you very much :D

    @April--Thank you for the comment, and being an engineer is a good job :) Also being a feature writer on your high school newspaper, that was an awesome job, much less being ranked second! :D