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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Day I Almost Quit

Ever been close to calling it quits?

I have. Very close. See, from the moment I started writing I, like most writers, fell in love with it. So much. Yet I had no idea how difficult it would be to secure an agent and get published.

I haven't shared much about my own journey so far, but here's a piece of it now:
Once I finished writing, editing, revising, shelving and re-editing EVIE'S KNIGHT, I gave it to just over a dozen beta readers. After receiving feedback from them, I went over it one final time, and then started to query.

Querying sucked. A lot.
I got rejection after rejection after rejection, until I got a request. For a full.
That didn't suck; it felt amazing!

But what's funny is I actually thought the agent would read the ENTIRE NOVEL before making a decision. And I was convinced that anyone who read the entire novel would fall in love with it. Of course, agents aren't required to read the whole thing. They could get as far as the synopsis and decide it's not going where they hoped it might and reject it before even getting to the novel. You never know. Not to mention, as any agent will tell you, this is a subjective business. They could read the entire thing, like it but not love it and you've still got a 'no'. But that's all beside the point.

So fast-forward to ... I'm not sure how much later, and I get a rejection stating that though she liked the voice and plot of the novel, she felt it "lacked polish".
POLISH? After I went over it a million times and shelved it and went over it a million more times and had all these beta readers go over it and... (Later I realized she was right, but let's not spoil the mood here.)
I was devastated. And ready to call it quits. Who was I anyway? Some ... twilight-loving, kid raising, not even best grade-getting woman who didn't know a thing about writing until she dedicated sleepless nights and insanely early mornings to a passion that took her by storm and refused to let go. Sure I had a dream. But maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

Writing was time-consuming. And though I loved it, though I couldn't imagine my life without it, I was wondering if I should call it quits. For good. I remember praying about it like, "Okay, is this my answer? Am I just stupidly pursuing something that is never going to happen?"  This is about the time I got a phone call from my dear, sweet mother who sensed the distress in my voice (never mind the hopelessness of my words) and got online to find out what local writers did. Surely there was a place to turn. Somewhere writers like myself could gather, share writing tips, gush about the highs, whine about the lows,  who knows? 
She was right. She discovered a local group that met once a month at a nearby library.
Now here's the kicker - the meeting was that very night. The one night of the month they met. So I went. Even though I didn't really want to. Even though I wouldn't have gone if it had been on any of the other twenty-nine days of that month.

This was a turning point for me. Being around other writers was incredible. Just the vibe in that room invigorated my writer's soul. I came home with a renewed passion, ready to get back on that laptop and do whatever it would take to make that manuscript shine. I also met the amazing women from my critique group (not to mention some super awesome friends) at such meetings.
I continue to learn, grow and renew my passion each time I attend a writer's meeting or conference. And most importantly, even when the going gets - well - straight out brutal, I hang in there and keep on writing. Truth be told, I don't know if I ever had much of a choice. :)

I want to leave you with one of the most fantastic blurbs on querying I have ever, ever read. YOU MUST READ The Ten Phases of Rejection. Best laugh ever.

Okay, so now you know a little something about me. What about you? Have you come close to calling it quits? What helps you stay with it when the writing world gets rough?

20 comments:

  1. Honestly, it's just the deep sense I have that I am on the right path doing exactly what I was meant to. I know it will be a long road with more than a few bumps, but it's okay when you just...know :)

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  2. I've never gotten to the point where it's so overwhelming I call it quits (because I've never queried). I just hope my love of writing keeps me on when the going gets tough.

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  3. Yes, it does seem to go on and on with searching for agents and querying.
    I've been on a break since being burglarized in November 2009 and not having a laptop to work with in concentrated quietness any longer. (We moved into a tiny place also). Thanks for sharing this - it helps the rest of us to be patient.

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  4. Great and inspiring post! I haven't queried yet (still editing), but I also have my down days. What kept me writing the first draft was the characters, having to tell their story, hoping that if it touches even a few people, it will be worth it. What keeps me going through the editing is how much better it's getting, and the how much I've already gotten through.

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  5. Yes, I nearly called it quits this year! But talking to my crit partners helped, and tough as it was, sending out more queries helped too. It was right after that I got a request for a full. The little successes and validations help as does the impression I'm doing what I'm supposed to. Loved the post!

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  6. I haven't wanted to call it quits yet, but I agree I would be lost without my writing friends! They(yourself included) motivates me to keep moving forward with my dreams of publicaton. Great post!!! :D

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  7. Thanks for telling us your story! It's so helpful to hear other's people experiences and know that we're normal. I'm like you, one of the best things I ever did for my writing and my happiness was to become involved in the writing community and meet lots of writer friends! Thanks Kim!

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  8. I enjoyed your story - so I know you're a great writer - don't quit - tie a knot and hang on! It might be hard, but you can do it - and now you have a support group!

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  9. I've never queried or submitted any of my writing--not at that stage yet--but I suppose it's the writing that keeps me from calling it quits. I love writing; even if I don't get published, I can still write. Right? :)

    Thanks for following my blog! I think I followed yours--for some reason the gadget on the right isn't showing up, so I clicked the link at the top. Hope my avatar shows up!

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  10. I think most people reach the give up point at some point - writers or not. I'm glad you didn't quit. :)

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  11. I don't know if I ever thought about quitting for good, but I've experienced periods where I haven't written or read anything for 2-3 months because of bad literary world experiences. I know I'll always come back to writing though, even if it's only a hobby.

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  12. This was such a great post! I don't know HOW many times I've wanted to give up, thinking I just don't have what it takes. But writing calls me back every time. I'm so glad you kept going! Congrats!!!

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  13. I quit three times a week.

    I'm quitting after I finish this chapter.

    I'm quitting as soon as I can get to the art supply store to buy more googly eyes for making sock puppets.

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  14. Thank you for sharing your story. We all feel like quitting at times. When I get the urge to throw in the towel, I usually take a little break from my work. After a day, I realize that I miss it too much to ever give it up. It's my affirmation that maybe I'm doing what I'm meant to be doing. :-)

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  15. That rejection post was hilarious. I have wanted to quit so many times. I have wondered over and over if I was just wasting my time. I have made myself keep going and going and going. But my motto is perseverance, and it pays off! How wonderful to have your mom find you a writing group. =) Keep the faith!

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  17. Thanks for all of your comments, everyone! Nice to hear about how you cope with the tough times. :)

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  18. Don't quit because we're entering an era that may be better than any previous time. The digital era gives people opportunities that we've never had before. It's no longer about who you know -- it's about how hard are you willing to work to be successful?

    I've written in three different formats now -- plays, screenplays and novels. Each time I started out I felt like I didn't know what I was doing. But gradually things started to click and it became fun.

    Writers still need a good story and good characters. They need the confidence to know when a story is ready to publish and when it needs more polish. But otherwise, the only obstacle standing in the way of success is yourself!

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  19. I'm too much of a newbie to get depressed. I'm still on the high from my newfound love of writing.

    Like you, I thought highly of my work (after all, my friends told me my stuff was great), until I attended my first critique group meeting.

    I wrote about that first meeting on my blog recently. That was the day I started my journey toward mastering the art of writing. Plus I found friends who shared common goals and cheered me on.

    Every writer would benefit from attending a critique group.

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  20. I often feel like quitting. Cultivating a writing life is difficult right now because my children are very small, and when I can't do the work I want to do, I get frustrated and sometimes just ask myself why I even bother. I try to tell myself each day that life is as it should be right now: children first. The writing life I dream of will come.

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