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If you are in the pit of discouragement right now, thinking if you hear one more unpublished author has received that elusive contract, you're just going to pitch your computer off the nearest cliff - please know this - I HEAR YOU.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