And, as embarrassing as it is to say it, the writing was even worse than the plot. Fortunately, not many people read it, so I have that to be grateful for.
I sent that book to a publisher once. Didn't know how to make a cover letter. Had never heard of a book proposal. I decorated the manila envelop by drawing flowers and vines up one side. That would get their attention, right? I didn't think to find out the right way to do--I just sent it.
It doesn't need to be said that my book was not accepted with glowing acceptance as I'd hoped.
After that, I kept writing, but I changed tactics. I started at the bottom of the ladder instead of trying to jump straight for the top. I started small pieces about things I had actually learned and things I actually knew about. I sent them to small magazines or newsletter, publications that did not pay. I started seeing my work get published.
I also started learning from which things were accepted and which were rejected. I took a correspondence course on writing where I learned to create a query letter, to edit my content, to look forward to criticism because I knew it would make me better.
Slowly, over about a ten year span, I worked my way up. Bigger magazines. Publication that paid. Even assignments.
Then finally, I felt ready. This time, I wrote a novel based on something I new well. The character struggled with my struggles. She traveled to places I'd lived. She encountered a culture I knew about.
I wrote what I had a passion for, not just a story I wanted to make interesting enough to be accepted.
Today I have a 3-part series of novels out there and a contract for a series of non-fiction books as well. I'm not at the top, nowhere near it, but I'm headed in the right direction.
If you are feeling discouraged, if you read things you've written and wish they were better, don't give up. Good writing is a skill that can be learned. Keep working at it and you'll keep improving. And if it will help encourage you, go back to the first book written by your favorite author. You'll likely notice a big difference between their first one and their current one. (Unless they're like me and threw it away so nobody would ever find it!)
If you're on your way forward, you're on your way! Keep at it, keep learning, and one day you'll hold in your hands work that you are proud of.