Okay, so today, I invited Gretchen McNeil to take over the blog. I wanted to post on perseverance, but you've all heard (and are bored by) my story. So welcome Gretchen!
I'm Irish, so this question comes up frequently. In my personal life ("But mom, a street magician can totally make a decent living!"), in my choice of careers ("Okay, so I'm making the move from opera singer to circus clown. Awesome, right?") my existence has been a series of questionable choices.
Writing was really just par for the course.
(Both of those quotes were from real conversations I had with my mom, by the way. Bless her.)
Stubborn or stupid. When you write your first novel, there's an element of each that comes into play. I was stupid because I literally had no idea what I was getting into - both in terms of the actual technique of writing and the business of getting published. I was stubborn because in the face of insurmountable odds, I kept at it.
I wrote a novel. My first. And let me be frank: it sucked donkey balls. No joke. I pull it out sometimes just to remind myself how far I've come. I queried 137 agents with that manuscript and surprise, surprise - no takers. SHOCKING.
On the upside, I learned how to write. It's a craft (as much as I loathe myself for saying that) and you have to learn not only the tricks and pitfalls of the trade, but how you as an individual writer work. I learned how to write, and when I finished my next manuscript, I believed I had something special on my hands.
So did some other people. I had four offers of representation within two weeks.
Cue Beethoven's 9th Symphony complete with fireworks. I've arrived! This is it! I'm going to sell this book at auction and two years from now I'll be accepting the Oscar for the screenplay I adapted FROM MY OWN NOVEL!!!!
No joke, I half composed the acceptance speech in my head.
But things don't always happen the way we think they will. That manuscript didn't sell. It languished in submission land with a few close calls and a lot of passes.
Cue Chopin's Funeral March and crack open a bottle of wine, por favor.
It was a tough time. On the one hand I had an agent who really believed in me. On the other, I was convinced I'd never have a good idea again and would never be able to finish another manuscript and OH MY GOD WHY DON'T I JUST GIVE UP NOW AND SAVE MYSELF THE MISERY!
My inner monologues are so dramatic sometimes.
Stubborn or stupid. I refused to give up. Through fits and starts I wrote another manuscript. Better. Faster. Stronger. I loved it. My agent loved it.
An editor loved it.
Stubborn and stupid. And loving every minute.
Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She's a founding member of vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as "Monday" and an active member of The Enchanted Inkpot, a group blog of YA and middle grade fantasy writers.
I won't lie, I'm sort of a fangirl for Gretchen. Be sure to follow her blog!
And are you stubborn or stupid? Wait. Don't answer that... Or do...