After writing ten non-fiction titles on hilarious subjects such as light-physics, lighting design, fiber optics and bridge (not the one you hurl yourself from but the one you play with thirteen cards), I decided to write fiction. Without stopping to investigate if fiction was any different from writing about Plank’s black body, I wrote a half-million-word novel. Naturally in Spanish, like the rest of my previous work.
My publisher sent the thing to Carmen Balcells, the then dean of Spanish literary agents. Her verdict was devastating. She counseled me to break the gargantuan manuscript into four novels and to write them in English; the Spanish market wasn’t suited to autochthonous techno-thrillers or SF.
In English? Piece of cake.
Once I had the novels written in something I thought would pass for English, I sent a few queries to American agents only to gather my first handful of rejections.
Suspecting that something wasn’t right, I became a member of a Web site where writers exchanged reviews of their work. I’m still smarting from the thrashing they gave me after reading my first post. Someone queried my POV. POV? What’s that? Characterization? Style? Structure? Spanglish? What are you talking about? The next day I deleted my name from the site, found a dark corner, and sulked.
Over the next three years, I studied grammar, syntax and acquired a modicum of your devilishly complex language. Then I wrote a few more novels and joined another writer’s group where I met my woman, a fellow writer and my harshest critic, editor, and slave driver, but where I also learned the craft of writing.
When I felt more confident, I tried to lure an agent into representing my work. Eventually I signed a contract with one but we weren’t suited. Meanwhile, I wrote another bunch of novels. Eight-hundred queries (make that 831 exactly) and as many rejections later, I found the right agent.
The rest is history. A major house published my first work and the second will follow this year. The same house has optioned a third novel and my agent will soon be seeking a second publisher for my work in another genre.
It seemed that was it. I’d done it. I was a published author, and then before I could even breathe in the scent of success, I was introduced to the world of publicity and promotion.
I have much to learn about writing, and all that entails, and would like to hear how other writers do it. (I mean writing, of course.)
By the way, publishing hasn’t made me a writer. I was a writer before, and will always be, and so are you if you write, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.