Well, the PitchWars selections have been made, and as I had expected, I wasn’t one of them. How do I feel about that? In truth, I had resigned myself to the fact that PitchWars was likely a no-go within the first few days after submission. (In fact, I had written this post nearly two full weeks ago, knowing in my heart exactly what the outcome would be.)
The regular readers of my blog will know that I’ve had mental hangups about my novel for some time, mainly because of the word counts being over 100K words. This feeling did not improved when the mentors I had submitted to began tweeting comments about word counts, commenting in particular how some of the submissions they had received were way too high, even for fantasy.
Now, in my opinion, my manuscript is not way too high. Christopher Paolini’s Eragon was 157K words. Terry Goodkind’s novel Wizard’s First Rule was 280K words. Brandon Sanderson’s debut novel Elantris was 203K words. And Steven Erikson started his publishing career with Gardens on the Moon at 209K words. All debut novels. All of them well and truly above the so-called maximum word count for adult fantasy of approximately 120K words. (Eragon is actually classified as YA, which has a maximum of 90K words.)
My word count… Well and truly under all of these, but still over 120K words. Okay… I’ll say it. When I closed the file back in June 2016, it clocked in at 134K words.
Now, I’m not saying any of this to complain, trying to protest that my word counts are not excessive. Certainly not. I mention all of this because it actually gives me a thread of hope seeing my novel is actually half the size of the debut novel of my favourite author. In my mind, it means that there is a chance. However, I know that there is a stigma attached to the debut writer word counts.
So, I have spent the last few weeks trying to decide what my path forward would be if I didn’t get into PitchWars, knowing in my heart that answer would likely be “no” almost as soon as I hit that submit button.
As I mentioned in previous posts, the word count stigma has crippled my efforts and has sent me on an emotional roller-coaster. The lows have been so low that my husband has even suggested that I give up writing altogether. Here’s the thing. While the word count stigma has halted my submission progress, the thought of NOT being a writer actually makes me nauseous. I can’t NOT be a writer. Writing is what I love and is so ingrained in my make-up that I’m positive I have ink running through my veins, not blood. I MUST be a writer.
So, with that decided, how to proceed.
Mentally, I have to get rid of the stigma associated with the word “debut”. If I can do that, then my word count of 134K is insignificant in the scheme of things. So in talking to several of my fellow writing buddies, I have come up with a plan, and it has three sides to it.
Shelve my current finished novel which I strongly believe is submission ready but will encounter the “debut” word count stigma. While it is shelved, write the next three novels in the series and get them edited to the same standard as the first novel. This would mean that when I begin the submission process with that novel again that I will actually have the first four books in the series ready to go, with the next ones in the works. (Yeah… I’m admitting the truth here, it’s a long series I’m working on. I don’t think small. I never have, so why should I start now?)
Get my A into G and get the military science fiction that I’m working on with writing partner Ann Bell Feinstein actually written. It’s another series, looking at six novels and a collection of short stories. It might actually be this that gets published first, giving both of us the ability to lose the “debut” writer stigma.
Write the standalone thriller novels that are running around in my head and have been for some time. (My editor challenged me to come up with a standalone story and I did; I came up with two.) I’m well aware that thrillers carry a different word count limit (one that is lower than fantasy), but I’m more than up to the challenge. And seeing as how both my high fantasy series and the military science fiction have thriller elements to them, I feel that I can write something that readers would love.
So there you have it. Just because I didn’t get into PitchWars, I’m not stopping. I’ve always had to work my ass off for the things that I wanted most. Why should this be any different?
There is one saying that drives me forward:
There’s a word for a writer who never gives up… published.
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2016