Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Elation, Inspiration, and Salutations

Kicking off this new and improved blog with some fantastic news, and a bit of inspiration for anybody out there who might need a little kick in the pants at the moment.

First the news:
I am delighted to announce that I am represented by Valerie Noble of Donaghy Literary Group. Over the past week and a half there has been a great deal of toasting this woman in my house, in restaurants, in the middle of the grocery store with random strangers...

She has already talked me down off several ledges, and I believe she is going to be a phenomenal champion of my work. I'm excited for what the future holds for our partnership, and for the book(s) in particular. Taking a moment to brag on Valerie, she is also an author in her own right, with her own series of books - take some time to check out The Energy Crusades - it's impossible to put down! 

And now, for the inspiration...

I did not expect to find myself here. Like, ever. There has always been a core of devoted, wonderful people in my life who have believed in me way more than I ever have, and none of them are surprised I've made it this far, but I sure as hell am. Writing has always been the only thing for me - I once lost a job because of writing too much when I should have been working, and by rights I probably should have lost more than one, but I learned how to be super stealthy, like this guy.
Sneaky. That's me.

Anyway, writing has always been the number one Thing. And now there's a chance that I will actually have something to show for it, instead of being ashamed of myself at parties. 

People: "And what do you do?"
Me: "I'm a writer."
People: "Are you published? Do you get paid? Can you justify this alleged passion with results?"

The point is, I never believed this could happen. And thus, being published has never been my focus. I write because I love the characters, and I want to find out what happens next as much as anyone else. When I'm not writing about them, I miss them, and I find myself thinking about them and their world, to the point that I sometimes forget where I am in my own. 

One day, though, I realized foolishly assumed I'd done all I could with the book, and thought it was time to start querying it. So I wrestled with the query letter, ground out a synopsis word by painful word, and started researching agents. Then I set up a fancy Excel spreadsheet to track the agents and their responses, and started sending out queries. And immediately started receiving rejections. 

If you haven't heard this yet, hear it now. You are going to receive a LOT of rejections. Some of them are going to hurt more than others. I still haven't decided if the form rejections hurt more than the personal ones that tell you how much they just didn't connect with the material. Actually, I think it's the non-responses that hurt the most. The silence screams volumes. 

"How can you not love my imaginary friends as much as I do?"

And then, one glorious day when I was absently braiding my daughter's hair, I got an email.

"Submission Request from XXX at XXXXX."

I made a noise something akin to a moose in heat, snatched my daughter in my arms, and waltzed around the living room with her. Years of roller derby have left me with a touchy back, so I immediately had to haul my broken carcass to the recliner and recover. Then it was time for a different kind of ugly cry. I knew in that moment that my life's ambition was complete. I was going to be a REAL writer, someone who didn't have to feel ashamed when people asked me what I did. 

That agent rejected my full two weeks later via a form rejection.

But that didn't matter because, in the intervening time, I got ANOTHER full request - this one from the fabulous Valerie. I didn't realize more than one agent would be interested in this, and especially  not an agent like Valerie. Dealing with big five publishers, handling series authors, dealing with real writers with real books, and a real author could she want someone like little old me? So I waited to hear from her, sending out more queries, tinkering with book two, and second-guessing book one to pass the time.

That, and raising a child. That takes up a little bit of time. 

But then it finally came - that glorious, glorious day when you get THE CALL. I knew from the first minute of our phone conversation that I wanted to work with Valerie. She's enthusiastic and energetic and all about making the book as good as it can possibly be. So I let the other agents I'd queried know that they had a short window to counter-offer, and while there were other interested parties, Valerie was the one for me. 

And so here we are. I have an agent.

And you can, too.

If you write for yourself first - not even for yourself, but for your characters and for the story - if the story matters more than being published or getting optioned or whatever long-term vision you might've had for your writing, then you're in it for the right reasons. And, with time and patience, it will happen for you, too. It might not be on the first book you write. My first book would be better served in this world perforated and hanging on a roll in someone's bathroom. That horrifying creature will never see the light of day. But as bad as it was, I learned a lot from writing it. I learned, most of all, just how much I love the very act of writing. Even if nothing ever came of it, writing would sustain my soul all my life. 

No one else in the world ever has to see your work for it to matter. If it brings you joy, if it gives you a place to hide in the darkest times of your life, if it gives you steadfast friends when you're all alone, then that's reason enough to do it. If the characters make you laugh and you have to know what happens to them, then find out.

Write the hell out of your story - read it to your friends, post it on Wattpad or find a crit partner or two through Twitter or Facebook - and listen to what they have to say with an open mind. An ego is nothing but a hindrance in the writing world. Drop that shit right now and listen to people's input. You don't have to agree with everything they say, but if you can't take honest criticism and look at your work with an objective eye, then keep the door to your writing room closed. If you're the kind of person who thinks any sort of criticism is an attack on you personally, writing is not for you; you'll end up bitter and angry, and not much can salve that sort of wound.

Most of all, you have to read. Read articles on craft, read books on craft, read books in your genre and outside it. Read the classics, read grocery store pulp, read the things everyone else is reading and find things no one else has heard of. Stephen King said it, and it is the primary commandment for all writers:

Quotes are always nicer with a pretty picture.

I have no idea what's going to come next for me, but I'm excited to find out. I'll keep you posted (especially if you subscribe, because who wouldn't want all this amazing gif-riddled content?). 

In the meantime I leave you with "so you want to be a writer?" by Charles Bukowski. I have this poem on my inspiration wall, close to my computer, as a reminder when distractions become too tempting. I hope it works for you, too. Sláinte!

1 comment:

  1. I commented before, but it didn't work! Anyway, I'm so flippin' happy for you and excited for what's in store for you! I knew it would happen!


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