Did anyone here take years to get published? What did you do to prevent the feeling that you're wasting your time, or taking the wrong path to reach your goals? I'm not burned out in the sense that I don't want to write. I'd like to write a series with characters I've already established, but it seems foolish when I haven't found a home for the first title. How do you decide what to do next?
Judy, I first began writing The Freedom Thief in 2007, as my last assignment for the first course at ICL. It was nothing like the finished product now on sale! But my teacher loved it, said I should take a novel course and complete the manuscript. So for that next course, this manuscript was the one I wanted to take on and finish, but my instructor didn't like it, said he wanted me to do a contemporary story. Guess what? That was the beginning of Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters, now also published. But it too was not much like this finished product.
However, during that time, I was still doing research for this historical novel. My husband and I even took a barge trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, visiting old Civil War sites, museums, what were once "safe" houses, and so all...much of which is in the final version of this story.
But I was still hung up on this historical novel and wanted to finish it. So I took a 2nd novel course at ICL, and did begin work again on Thief, which was not the name at that time. My instructor and I had nothing but problems, the only time I ever had a problem with an ICL teacher. She insisted I write FIVE full chapters of nothing but backstory to "set the stage" for what was coming. I knew that if I sent even one chapter of that to an agent or an editor, much less 3 or the full 5, and IF those chapters were accepted, when they got the rest of the manuscript, they would be horrified. Those chapters had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story.
I hung in there with that instructor for the full course, hoping she would change her mind, but she didn't. When I had my "diploma", the first thing I did was delete the full five chapters, and begin first, with a new title, The Freedom Thief, and then begin those first chapters the way I knew they should begin.
From that day, until the first edition of The Freedom Thief was published in 2012, was 5 years. If you include the past two years, until now when this particular book is selling really well, it has been 7 years for a true fulfillment.
To answer your second question, I never did feel burned out. Frustrated, disgusted, more frustration, yes, all of the above and more, but never the feeling of being burned out or that I didn't want to write more.
So don't quit. Take one day at a time, continue writing, continuing pursuing publishers, because it does take a long time...sometimes. Sometimes it's just a matter of hitting the right editor at the right time with the right story. And we never ever know when that is going to happen. It could be tomorrow, next week, or next year, but eventually it will happen.
If you have a good set of characters, well-rounded, well-developed, and story ideas for those characters, get going with them. It's not foolish. The only foolish thing is when you let frustration get in the way of progress, and we've all done that. Just don't let it become an every day thing. Work through it, no matter how hard, or sometimes how discouraging it may seem.
"You don't win if you don't try." You don't publish if you don't write. So keep on writing, and make that series come true.