Monday, May 24, 2010

The waiting is the hardest part

5/24/10

Hi everyone! I decided to join this century and set up my own blog to help chronicle my road to publication (positive thinking!), discuss great new books I've been reading, music I can't stop listening to, links to writing tips and websites I think are invaluable for the writing process, and most of all, a place to vent! Welcome!

So as anyone who has known me for a while can tell you, I've wanted to write since I'm about three. At 13, I wrote a novel that I submitted to the then editor-in-chief of the children's division at Putnam Publishing Comapny, and that got me a meeting with her in New York. I remember walking into the marbled and esteemed lobby of this incredible place with my mom, thinking myself very dressed up in a tan blazer and pleated cords, overwhelmed by just how much I wanted to be a part of the writing world. The editor told me I was not quite ready for publication but handed me a stack of books by writers whom she said wrote in a similar style to myself, and suggested I read them and study for them, and above all else, keep writing and feel free to send her anything I wrote without even a query from that point on. Naturally, at that point I was a teenager, and shortly thereafter became more interested in boys and a social life than writing, so I sadly let this opportunity slip away. The dream of being a writer, however, remained a constant. It was just simply...dormant.

I wrote here and there over the years, went through the UCLA Screenwriting program and completed a screenplay, but when I finished it, I was nearly nine months pregnant with my daughter Katie, so I opted not to shop it around, and then once again, life had other plans and I devoted myself to being a full-time stay-at-home-mom. However, I turned 40 last year and it was like something hit me hard. It was time. This could no longer be back-burnered. It was time to stop dreaming about being a writer and do the work. A famous writer friend of my parents once said that "You're not a writer unless you're writing." I didn't like that answer, and so it helped to propel me forth and face my biggest fear in the whole process - rejection.

I started writing "BAND GEEK" in the fall of 2008. I wrote the first 11 pages and put it away. I took it out again in the fall of 2009 and committed myself to a writing routine of writing Monday through Thursday from 8:45-1 while the kids were in school. It worked. I completed the novel in seven months, and honestly, I never once experienced a day of writer's block. The words just flowed. I think part of the reason was because I'd never had a story idea delivered to me in one piece like this before - characters so clearly developed, a unique hook and an ending. Ironically, as I wrote the book, the ending changed, and I hope the one I came up with will satisfy the reader far more.

I started making revisions, passed it around for feedback, and when I felt it was tight and solid, began working on the dreaded query letter. Oh. My. God!!!! Writing that was waaaaay harder than writing the actual book. It was so incredibly daunting to boil down 303 pages to two paragraphs and include all the key details, let alone figure out how to format in Apple Mail from a Microsoft Word document, which apparently remains one of life's greatest mysteries along with where the other missing sock went , so I'm in good company. And then...the synopsis!!!! Hang me from the tallest tree right now. That was even worse!! And the most frustrating part is...these two documents, which barely capture the flavor and voice of the book enough to do it justice, are what will win over an agent and/or an editor. I've got basically 45 seconds to wow them and then they turn off my spotlight.

I got my first rejection a record 43 minutes after I sent the first query (thank you Nathan Bransford!! I still think your blog is awesome!!!) and several others followed suit ranging in response time from hours to weeks to the dreaded not at all. And so...I wait. I continue to query, I sit on my hands, I bite my nails to the quick, and I hope beyond hope that my chance will come, that someone will believe in what I wrote and think it's fantastic. At least, someone that isn't a blood relative