Friday, November 19, 2010

How Did I Get Here?



So what's the story behind the story?
I often wonder, when I hear of a new author with a debut novel releasing, how did they get there? And I'm still asking myself the same question. But before I write one more word, let me say this:

If you are in the pit of discouragement right now, thinking if you hear one more unpublished author has received that elusive contract, you're just going to pitch your computer off the nearest cliff - please know this - I HEAR YOU.

If you need proof, feel free to scroll through the archives of this blog. Just a few months ago I wrote a post entitled What If You're Just Meant To Be The Cheerleader? And there are plenty more where that came from. So yes, I know what you're going through. If you want to rant and cry here, go ahead. I've got tissues.

When I was a very new writer, way back in the day, I stumbled upon Romance Writers of America. I thought it would be a good idea to join, so I did. I suppose I must have joined their Christian group as well, Faith, Hope and Love, and somehow I ended up in a critique group. It was so long ago that I honestly don't remember the details, but let me tell you who was in that group. Gail Sattler, Cathy Hake, Lynette Sowell and Kristin Billerbeck.

Nope, I'm not kidding. All of them went on to become published authors in relatively quick succession, while I languished in the valley of despair. I didn't know what they were doing that I wasn't, maybe they just had better connections. Whatever. I remember at that time the discouragement was so great that I did quit for a while. I like to call it my growing time.
You know - not that I'm a farmer or anything - but when you see those fields either burnt or laying fallow, infested with weeds, the farmer does that for a reason. I'm sure it has something to do with nutrients in the soil or maybe he just took off to Florida for a break, I don't know. But when he gets backs and works those fields, the crops come in so much better. Right? We'll just say right. You get the metaphor.

When I finally decided I was ready to get back to writing, I joined American Christian Fiction Writers, and another critique group. It was kind of large at first, but it got smaller. And one by one, those critique partners started getting published too! Betsy St. Amant, Jenness Walker, Jennifer Hudson Taylor. Now don't everyone rush and email me to be your critique partner, okay? I thought, well I'm either brilliant or I'm cursed.

Timing.

Really, if you're learning and growing as a writer, going to conferences and receiving good feedback on your writing, that's all it comes down to. And no, things did not miraculously fall into place after I got an agent. Don't be deceived in thinking that once you're agented, that contract is just going to pop through the mailbox. Yes, on the rare occasions, that does happen, but more often than not, it takes a while. For me, three years.
Yes, my agent is a saint!

So how did I get here?
Perseverance. Determination. Being teachable. Being available.
And believing that if this was God's plan for my life, eventually, at the right time, it would happen.
Don't give up. If you are truly convinced that you are right where you're supposed to be, you'll get there too.

17 comments:

Sarah Forgrave said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Cathy! And I must say, you have the Midas touch with your critique groups. :)

Julie Jarnagin said...

Wow! You've had some great critique groups. Congrats on your contract!

THE OLD GEEZER said...

I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You :-)

~Ron

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Wow, those are some amazing people in those critique groups. It's great that you continued to persevere even though the wait was long. Congrats again on your publishing contract!

Keli Gwyn said...

I'm sooo happy you persevered and still get excited every time I think about your First Sale.

With CPs like those, I'm thinking you've got a wealth of endorsers ready and waiting to provide cover blurbs for you. I'm sure they're grateful. After all, you played a role in getting them to where they are today. =)

Catherine West said...

Thanks, Sarah, Julie and Keli! And Ron, great to meet you, I'll go check out your blog now!

Katie Ganshert said...

That's insane with your critique partners!! I enjoyed reading about your journey, Cathy!

Heather Sunseri said...

I love hearing more about your journey. I know every journey is so different, but they are all encouraging in their own ways. I'm glad you stuck it out!! Congrats, again!

Joanna St. James said...

I love your story and even though it did not seem like it at that time, you were everyone's good luck charm.
Thanks for following my blog it is nice to meet you.

Dawn said...

Your critique partners remind me of a friend whose ex-girlfriends all kept marrying the man they dated right after him.

I just copied and pasted your last paragraph in my "Motivation" file.

Great post.

jenness said...

Do you have to be charming to be a good luck charm? Cuz you're methods are more along the lines of, let's see...
Multiple emails that say, ISN'T IT ABOUT TIME YOU SENT ME SOMETHING TO CRITIQUE???!
And, oh, using the rolling your eyes smiley during an IM pitch session to let me know I just bored my prospective editor to death. lol
You're a fantastic critique partner. Thanks. :-)

Laura Pauling said...

Congratulations on getting agented and selling a story! That's awesome! Thanks for following!

Doreen McGettigan said...

Wow I cannot even find anyone to be in a group with!
What an inspiring post; thank you for sharing.

Betsy St. Amant said...

Thanks for the shout out =) I'm so happy for you!

Sarah Varland said...

Thanks for the encouragment to those of us still waiting. =)

And can you blame everyone for wanting to suddenly barrage you with "let me in your crit group" requests? That's hilarious that they all keep getting published.

Loved the first chapter on your website. =)

Audrey said...

Hi Catherine, I find your post very encouraging and inspirational. Thanks for being so very frank in your thoughts and in your words.

I have a sister living in Bermuda.

When you can make the time I hope you will come visit my blog....I'm happy to follow your site. Maybe you will find mine worthwhile to follow too.

All the best. Keep writing!

Audrey Austin,
Elliot Lake, Canada

Georgiana said...

I'm so happy for you :D Someday I can say I knew you when...AND we shared a limo!