Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Writer Wednesdays: Lane Stephens

Me? A Writer?

Lane Stephens

My entire professional life has been involved with design and art. From the age of 10, when I won my first art competition, I knew I was going to be an artist. College, then advertising agencies, magazine publishing, retail advertising, and restaurant design were the fields in which I flourished, holding positions as designer, illustrator, Art Director and then Creative Director. I was one of those people who excelled in anything artistic. I have since left the cutthroat corporate world to become a free-lance designer/illustrator and painter, working from a studio in my house.

And through all this, I was a reader… a voracious 2 to 3 book a week reader of fiction. When my husband and I vacationed, I’d drag a tote bag of books along with me and plowed through them. While sitting on a deck overlooking the glittering waters of Cape Cod, I’d just finished a wonderful book, Peace like a River, so lyrical in its prose, it made my heart sing. I closed it and sighed. My husband looks up from his own book (I had gotten him hooked on reading by then) a question on his face. I said, “You know, I think I might have a book in me.” I put my pens and paint brushes aside and plopped myself in front of the computer.

For three years I’ve been on a path I’m determined to see to the end. I have written a novel. It’s a novel of character-driven suspense with an element of the supernatural and an interwoven theme of covetousness throughout…the wanting of that which you cannot have. I sent this grand piece of work to literary agents in a flurry of queries with high expectations of landing an agent. The impersonal form-letter rejections, notes, emails and even a rejection on a post-it slip did not deter me.

It took one kind agent to open my eyes and rob me of my innocence, taking the time to write that though my writing was intelligent and compelling, a first novel -- a morbidly obese one of 197,000 words -- was not going to be picked up by any agent or publisher.

I knew my manuscript was long by industry standards, but surely the quality of the writing would be seen! I revisited my work due to that nice man taking the time to address a newbie with some actual feedback. I cut and rewrote and cut some more. I have tightened and sharpened the prose and rethought scenes… and cut some more. At present, it is still a hefty 178,000 words. My big fat great manuscript is resistant to change.

A lovely publisher at a small publishing house took an interest in me, for whatever her reasons, and reviewed the first chapter. Her input was invaluable, though she declined to option me. She took the time to make page by page suggestions, showing me what an editor looks for and what criticism I might expect. She too, said it was too long, but I was thrilled to get a glimpse of the future. I am again taking my corpulent copy and am dieting it down even further. Every time I can delete a that or a beloved, fluffy ly word is a small triumph.

It’s an all-consuming, on-going process. I reached the point where I could not look at the story one more time without my eyes glazing over. It crowds my dreams with possible plot changes and subconscious nonsense involving it. I cringe when friends ask, “What’s going on with your book?” having heard of it since its conception. My husband calls home and asks, “What are you doing?” and my reply is still “I’m working on the book.” Yes, I am still working on the book and will continue to work until it is a lean, toned and trim piece of intelligent, compelling and publishable literature, regardless of how long it takes. Bear with me, family and friends… I am still working on the book.

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I'd like to thank Lane for being the first guest on Writer Wednesdays and thank all of you for stopping by to celebrate and support her writing journey.

Kristin : )

For more info about this series please follow this link: Writer Wednesdays: The Intro


  1. Lane,
    Good for you. Keep working and enjoying what you are doing.

  2. Keep plugging away, Lane. Whether this cheers you or just depresses you, it took me 33 years and 8 books before I was published. I would suggest finding an online crit group who might be able to help you see the things you can cut without losing your story.

  3. I'll kick off the comments. I love Lane's persistence. She is taking the generous advice from the agent and publisher and using it to improve her "big fat great manuscript" Good Luck Lane :)

  4. Lane, do you have a blog? Website? Twitter or Facebook account? Somewhere we can connect with you in the future? :-)

    Another person who hooked her husband on reading - woot! I had to do that too. He told me he wasn't a reader. I told him he just hadn't found the right books yet.

    Wonderful determination you have, and perseverance in the face of much criticism. Kudos to you for continuing on, and good luck in your quest!

    Kristin - nice template! ;-)

  5. Kristin ~ LOVE the series! and the fact you are featuring writers, whether published or not.
    Lane ~ You go, girl! Based on your tweets, I think you should be doing something humorous, too. {I know, no time.} But my thinking, skewed though it may be, is that the more creative we are, the more creative we maybe some "light" funny writing would help you with the difficult job you're facing with paring down your novel? And, selfishly, you crack me up!
    I'm proud to be a Twister to both of you! *hugs* Dani ddh77

  6. Lane, you are the real deal! Love ya.

  7. Lane,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences with sending out your manuscript and the feedback you received. It always helps to listen to other writer's stories and learn from them.
    Don't forget to reward yourself with good refreshment as you work through your manuscript!
    That can help keep you on track with good energy.

    Loved this post. Thanks for starting this new series. Look forward to future posts!

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring

  8. Looks like you have a good series for your blog. Looking forward to more.

  9. I was really very touched by the feedback from this blog site. Thank you all for your generous comments and support and with them, I will persevere! A special thanks to Kristin who invited me to be her first guest writer. She is my Twister, a lovely phrase she has coined to descript sisters at heart who have met on Twitter. Find me there as @Lanecat2. Thank you again all, Lane Stephens