“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.”
- Albert Einstein
I am a writer.
One day (hopefully soon) I will be a published writer. When that happens, I hope I’m interviewed because I want to tell my story. As an unpublished writer, nothing inspires me more than to hear success stories that include trials and tribulations of previously struggling writers. Does overnight success depress you as much as it depresses me?
Elana Johnson: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/
have done these types of interviews. Both of these writers have agents. Both have recently received publishing contracts. Both worked hard to get where they are.
This will be my story:
For years, I didn’t feel I had the right to be a writer. I came up with ideas, some written on paper, some typed on a computer. Then I reminded myself, I am not a writer, and those pieces were discarded.
I didn’t go to school to learn the craft of writing. While I did fine in my high school and college creative writing courses, I took them for fun. In high school, I planned to be a fashion designer, so writing wasn’t where I spent my time or energy. In college, I decided to major in History and minor in Political Science. I had different ambitions. Different dreams.
Still the ideas came. They began when I was a teenager, interfering with my sleep.
When my son attended preschool, I attempted a picture book. Without any feedback, I sent it to about five publishers. The query was wrong. The formatting of the picture book manuscript was horrendously wrong. I received a couple of form rejections and a few publishers didn’t bother to reply.
Years went by.
I began to write.
About six-weeks later, I was proud of my completed manuscript. I edited it with few changes. I knew someone who worked at Candlewick who gave it to an editor. Melissa Glenn Haber gave me the name of her agent, so I sent it to her.
I received rejections.
Though I didn’t know it, I had MUCH to learn.
on my face.
Then I received a couple of requests for fulls.
A few kind agents and editors took the time to tell me what was wrong with my manuscripts. I didn’t understand exactly what they meant. But I saved them.
I understand now.
I understand because I’ve worked hard to understand.
It took homework, collaboration, research, discipline. NOT excuses.
Grammar can’t be fudged. Submitting without having beta readers look at my work is unfathomable. Editing other people’s manuscripts makes me a stronger writer. Workshops always teach me something new. Writing everyday is a must. Doing homework is a must. Rushing to submit a manuscript before it’s ready is writerly suicide. If I want an agent or contract, I need to send them the best product I (with help from my beta readers) know how.
When I land an agent, I will count my rejections. I can’t right now or I’ll lose hope. It’s not that many for any particular manuscript. I’d do my version of polishing, querying, and then receive rejections.
I’d give up on that manuscript and move on to the next one. Sometimes, I’d do my version of changes from feedback. But I’d only send to another handful of places before giving up again.
I was in a rush to win a race. Publishing was supposed to save me.
Now I know it’s writing that saves me.
For years I queried mostly publishers instead of agents. Some people swear by that route, but if anyone had offered me a contact, I would’ve been uneasy negotiating on my own.
Now I’m trying to land an agent first. My manuscripts are on the brink of ready. REALLY ready this time. I’ve been reading to become a better writer. Books on grammar and writing. Fiction. Nonfiction. YA.
Some things haven’t changed:
I still don’t outline.
I have no writing schedule with demands of time of day, length of time, or word count.
I still need to kill extraneous words: that, of, was, were.
But I believe I’ve conquered (most) of my writing demons.
I know what a voice is and I’ve found my voice.
Maybe a round of queries will prove me wrong. But I won’t give up. When it comes to querying, I’ve confused losing a battle with losing a war. No more.
I am a writer.
I’m not a published one.
But I hope to be.
We all start somewhere. Maybe my start is similar to your start or maybe you hit the ground running. Maybe we have the same strengths and weaknesses or different strengths and weaknesses.
Marsha Moore/Talli Roland: http://talliroland.blogspot.com/
Karen Gowen Jones: http://karenjonesgowen.blogspot.com/
explain publication doesn’t mean instant success. Their hard work doesn’t stop because they’re published authors.
The work won’t stop for you.
The work won’t stop for me.
It took me four years to really, really get it.
When I made business cards for the NESCBWI conference this year, I decided to write:
Elana Johnson has it on her blog. So does Tahereh: http://stiryourtea.blogspot.com/
I’m an unpublished author, but so what?
When the subject comes up, I tell people I’m a writer. Or author. Then I say I’m not published.
What’s their reaction?
I don’t care.
I don’t hide.
I don’t fear.
I just keep working hard.
Theresa Milstein, YA Author (Albeit Temporarily Unpublished)
What’s your story?
The story of the spark is here: