To start, let me say that I’m a huge fan of these particular kinds of blog posts. The journey posts. I loved (still love) reading them because they rarely follow the theme of “OMG, I just wrote this book last month, got my agent last week, and I just signed a three book deal!!!”
No, usually theses post chronicle the long, often difficult journey of the writer involved, and that always gives me hope. Well if you are looking for one of those, you’ve got one! Remember, the primary emotion I feel when writing this post is optimism.
Okay, so here is the WHOLE rundown, complete with stats. Because I know I love reading other people’s stats. Note: I will try to be as pithy as possible, but this post might be a tad long.
I’ve always loved writing, but this is when I decide to get serious. I have an idea for a YA fantasy novel about twins who are princesses. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. But hey, we all have a twin princess story in us.) I fill an entire spiral notebook with notes.
Force myself to stop daydreaming about writing and start doing it. I write 30 pages of my YA fantasy novel and decide that I absolutely loathe my main character. Abandon ship!
The Year of 2006
I start and stop several YA novels, never getting past 45 pages. I do, however, complete a young MG novel, and a picture book that has WAY too many words.
I begin a YA epic fantasy that never got a title. I’ve always referred to it as Tristan.
I start my lowly blog.
I finish Tristan on my birthday! Feel overcome with the sense of accomplishment. I’ve actually FINISHED a whole novel. Also, right around this point I become friends with Kiersten White and Natalie Whipple. We form a crit group, and call ourselves the MoMo’s.
Slogging through edits for Tristan. I’m feeling like it just might be a quagmire. Besides, I have this other idea pulling at me. After much thought, I set Tristan lovingly in the trunk.
Miss Midas bursts onto the scene. I write it in just over a month, and dive into edits. I’m pretty sure it’s the most brilliant thing EVER.
(In July, I get this idea for a post apocalyptic novel. Seems pretty cool. I make sporadic notes, but don’t pay much attention yet.)
I send out my very first query letters ever! I’m SO SO SO excited. Wonder how I’m going to pick between the twelve agents that are going to fight over me.
Queries sent: 44
Partials Requested: 2
Fulls Requested: 4
Offers of Rep: zilch
The agony of querying hits me VERY early on. To distract myself, I start working on my post apocalyptic idea. I give it the awful working title: PAMR. (short for post apocalyptic, magic realism) (even though it’s not technically magic realism. Details, details.)
December 2008-July 2009
Real life takes over. Due to my husband’s work, and various other crazy reasons, our family moves FIVE TIMES, to FOUR different states. Needless to say, writing often falls to the back burner.
But in the space of this time, I:
1. Give up on querying Miss Midas
2. Finish the first draft of PAMR.
3. Give it a better name: Searcher
4. ( 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. ) Edit my brains out.
Searcher takes a lot out of me, but I believe in it. So much. And as hard as it is with the craziness of my life, I’m willing to put the work into it.
My first, big Philosophical Journey. (Or so I call it.) Everything screeches to a halt while I ponder many deep and weighty things related to my writing. I wonder if Searcher has what it takes. Think to myself, I was so sure about Miss Midas, and it got canned. What makes me think Searcher will be any different? Contemplate giving up. Thank goodness for good friends who bring me back. (my writer friend Candice, and my twin sister Diana were key here.)
I start querying Searcher. The responses feel more enthusiastic this time, but the Querying Despair creeps up anyway. After 3 months, I hit a wall. Clearly, the agents have spoken. This isn’t what they want. Case closed.
I give up.
Queries sent: 39
Partials Requested: 4
Fulls Requested: 5
Offers of Rep: One close call, but nothing sticks.
Embark on a second Philosophical Journey. It lasts several months. I don’t do much writing.
I embrace my childhood love of mermaids, and start writing Deep. It’s fun and diverting, and goes pretty quickly. Within a few months, I’ve finished, and gone through a several rounds of edits.
I start querying Deep. This time, instead of feeling excited and giddy, I’m kind of sick to my stomach.
Within a month, I give up. (I know. I know! Believe me, I know. Well . . . I will come to know. (Keep reading.)
Queries sent: 17
Partials Requested: 2
Fulls Requested: 1
Thus begins the 3rd Philosophical Journey.
I do A LOT of thinking. (Are you sensing a theme here?) I reread my novels. I talk with my very good friends. And I come to a very, VERY important realization. Two, really. I discuss my thinking in greater detail in this post, but in a nutshell:
1. I have been WAY too hard on my own writing.
2. I gave up on querying WAY too soon Every. Single. Time.
I realize I owe it to myself to keep trying. So . . . I start querying Searcher and Deep again. (Disclaimer: I did look into it, and never found anything that said “DO NOT query two books at once,” however it gets tricky. As you will see in a minute.)
Queries sent: 14
Partials Requested: 2
Fulls Requested: 3
Queries sent: 8
Partials Requested: 1
Fulls Requested: 4
And then . . .
November 16th, while I’m on vacation, Molly Jaffa requests the partial of Searcher. Two days later, she requests the full.
Monday morning, November 22, I’m sorting laundry (glamorously) when I hear my cell phone ring. When I see the area code, my heart freezes for a split second, but I tell myself that it’s most likely a telemarketer.
It’s Molly Jaffa. Offering representation. *cue celebration* I spend Thanksgiving weekend feeling VERY thankful.
And THEN, on the last day the other agents had to get back to me by, another agent emails me wanting to set up a phone call. (And while I try not to play that game, she’s a pretty big time agent from a pretty big time agency.) *stunned* She loves my book, and while she does want to see a round of revisions first, she is essentially offering. BTW, did I mention the book she read was Deep!
So then come a few days filled with a mixture of panic, nerves, happiness, and disbelief. I find myself with a big choice to make. In spite of my daydreaming about picking between agents during my Miss Midas days, having to actually face the situation is very nerve wracking. I have a stomach ache for three days straight.
But, as you all know, this story has a happy ending (, or a happy new beginning!) I picked Molly Jaffa, and I couldn’t be happier.
So there it is, folks. If you read this whole post, I commend you! It sure was fun to write. It makes me really grateful. I’m grateful that while I had periods where I didn’t want to think about writing AT. ALL., and giving up seemed like the most sane thing to do, I’m truly glad that I never did. And I know things don’t always work out, storybook style, but I do believe that things only started to really happen when I was truly ready inside. When I truly believed I could succeed. And THAT is your dose of optimism for the day. Hope you enjoyed it.