Tuesday, January 1, 2013

IWSG Post--What To Do When The Tank Is Out Of Gas And There's Nothing But Hills Ahead...



This is an IWSG post, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. For more inspiring posts, visit... http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

As you all may have guessed, my title is a metaphor for a common problem I think we all share as writers. When we we're deep into our WIP and all the magic is gone, we're running on fumes, and there's no coasting, but all climbing, what are we to do? Well, first, eat lots of chocolate and say a prayer. That's what I do anyway. But comfort food and time on our knees will only take us so far. Eventually, we have to put on our wading boots and sift through the muck.

It was a little over four years ago that I started my first draft of Sebastian Falls. If I had given up at the first hill I came to, then I'd have never written a word. Why? Well, because I didn't own a computer, not even an old school typewriter. All I had was this story begging to be written, a pencil, and four blank notebooks. That's right, I wrote my first draft of Sebastian Falls entirely by hand. But I knew if I wrote the story, then one day it would get published. Only me being a naive rookie, I thought I'd get published as soon as I typed my first draft. Boy was I in for heartbreak.

As soon as I finished the story, a friend took pity on me. She had an old computer collecting dust in her garage and let me have it. I was pumped! I typed every chance I had. I'd stay up into the wee hours, tapping my story out. Even when the dinosaur desktop started smoking and the wires crackling, I kept going. Miraculously, I manged to get it all typed without the dang thing catching fire.

After I finished, someone, I can't remember who, told me I needed an agent. Sure, piece of cake. I bought a book of agents and a cheap laptop. Then the kiss of death...I thought I could woo my top ten list of hot shot agents over the phone. I can't remember how many I called, but needless to say, I got the same response from all of them. "You need to write a query letter." So, I did, but it took forever to get it halfway right.

A long time into my search, an agent requested my full. But I needed to do rewrites. I ended up rewriting my whole story, but the agent dropped out of the business before I could submit my darling to her. That was a huge setback to my psyche. The world was ending, or so I thought.

For awhile, I gave up writing. Actually, I intended to never write again, but my heart had other plans. It wouldn't let me throw away my dreams. But it also wouldn't let me submit my story as is. Nope, my manuscript still needed work, so I started another rewrite. That time, in first person/present tense. And to refuel my gas tank, to give me a boost, I decided to query an agent that my dear friend, Elizabeth Seckman, told me about. Elizabeth helped me write a better letter then I sent it to said agent. Elizabeth knew I wasn't finished with my rewrite, so she said, "I hope you get caught with your pants down. I hope that agent requests your full and lights a fire under your butt." Guess what? That's exactly what happened. So, I told agent I needed to rework my ending. She had no clue I was about 50k words short.

I tapped out those 50k in a month then sent it to the interested agent. Six weeks later, she set up an appointment to chat with me over the phone. I'd never known an agent to waste time on phone calls, so I thought she was prepared to offer me representation. Except, our phone call never happened. The agent rescheduled three times, but in the end, she sent me an email to say she didn't want to rep me. Again, I found myself wanting to give up and did, but only for a few days.

After I worked up a fresh batch of courage, I started querying again, but this time, I added a few publishers to the lineup. Six weeks later, World Castle Publishing offered me a contract, and I said YESSSSS! My point to the whole story: Don't ever give up on your dreams, no matter how low you feel, or how many hills are ahead of you! We are but a small piece to the bigger puzzle, and Someone far bigger than we are is in control. We have no right to give up on our destiny, but the privilege to fulfill it.

I hope this inspires somebody to keep going. Until the next time, happy writing, friends.

29 comments:

  1. I'm inspired!!! Guess my prodding of you went from my lips to God's ears...hehe.

    When the desire is deep in your gut, there is no turning back. (and

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    1. Stupid laptop...I wasn't done typing, so stop posting for me.

      I was saying...when you want it bad enough, you'll do it. (and knuckle bumps lady! I wrote my first story on notebooks too!!)

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    2. Yes, you were God's little helper, butt-kicker, and voice of motivation for me! And I never knew you wrote your first story on notebooks! We're like Stephen King, only not as creepy, but just as weird, lol! :)

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  2. Great post! Congratulations!!! :D
    IWSG #137 until Alex culls the list again.

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    1. Hey Melissa!

      Thanks! I'll be sure and check your blog out! :)

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  3. Awesome! Persistence can be a merciless taskmaster. Have a great 2013.

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    1. Thanks Nancy! You're right, persistence pays! Happy New Year! :)

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  4. Thanks for this awesome inspirational post!!! Congratulations on your contract!!! Happy writing in 2013!

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    1. You're welcome, Tyrean! And thanks for the congrats! Happy writing to you, too! :)

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  5. Thanks for the inspiration, Celeste, and I completely agree. Persistence is the most powerful weapon in a writer's arsenal. Writers may fail for a variety of reasons, but successful authors all have one thing in common: they never gave up.

    J.W. Alden

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    1. You're welcome, J.W.! I'm so glad I didn't give up! happy New Year! Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  6. Thanks for inspiring us and reminding us that our dreams can come true.

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    1. You're welcome, Suzanne! Happy New Year! :)

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  7. That's a lot of hills to travel for sure.

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    1. For sure, Tonja, but now that I've climbed them I'm thankful for the journey. I think nothing can shake me now! Happy New Year! :)

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  8. That's a pretty hilly ride. Glad you found a home for your story!!

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    1. Thanks Luanne! This is totally off subject, but I have a neighbor named Luanne Smith! Just thought I'd share, lol. :) Happy New Year!

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  9. Celeste,
    Your story is very familiar. We all start in this struggle because we want to tell a great story and want someone to read it. THEN....we discover the roadblocks. Not just teeny weeny NO ENTRY signs but huge canyons to be crossed. I'm glad that I've met you online. You make us all want to keep trying. :)

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    1. Aww, thanks, Brinda. I'm so glad I met you too! One thing good about those canyons:I think they make us sturdy and hard to knock down, so maybe on our next journey, we'll be better prepared for the struggles. Happy New Year, friend. :)

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  10. I'm inspired by your story. Congrats on not giving up.

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    1. Hey Patricia! Thanks so much for stopping by! And thanks for the congrats! Happy New Year! :)

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  11. Wonderful story! And soooooo true. We can't give up. All we need to do is focus on the work, do our best, and keep trying. Good things can and do happen. :D

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    1. Yeah! We can achieve anything we pursue! Happy New Year, Morgan! Thanks for stopping by. :)

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  12. This is a fantastic post and I am so glad that I have gotten the chance to meet you. I felt like giving up in 2012, but writing wise I got an agent and even when I got an agent, I lost my job and it felt like the end. Your post was really inspiring. Thank you so much for following my blog and I want to wish you all the best for 2013.

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  13. Hey Murees!

    Wow, this makes me smile. Thanks for joining my blog, too! Here's to an awesome New Year w/endless possibilities! :)

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  14. Wow, What a great inspiring story. Thanks for sharing it. Good luck to you with your book.

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  15. Hey Jessica! Thanks for the well wishes and for stopping by! I hope 2013 is super kind to you and all your endeavors. :)

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  16. Excellent, congratulations!

    Fellow writers can do magic for filling up the gas tank somehow. I've just about never failed to complete a first draft during National Novel Writing Month. :)

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  17. I've never done NANO, but may try this year. And you're right, there's nothing better than fellow writers to get us back on track. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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