Moving Beyond Solitary: Practicing Perseverance
By Amy Bearce
Writing is, by its very nature, a solitary process. Many of us who write enjoy that isolation. Perhaps we are introverts or maybe we just like dissolving into other worlds we create. But there comes a point in time when we want to share our story with others. And that means putting yourself and your work in front of other people. This often begins by letting a trusted friend or two read your manuscript. It could also mean joining a critique group. But if you have hopes of publication, eventually, you will have to show your work to agents and/or editors. It’s time to enter the querying stage.
That can be incredibly hard.
“Just a little hike, they said. Huh.”
If you are shy as well as introverted, it can be downright terrifying. But it’s important to stick with it and keep trying, even when you don’t see a lot of results at first.
The query process can be long, tedious, and full of rejection. One way to make things more interesting and fun is to enter online contests, such as #PitMad and #PitchWars. It opens the door and invites other people to enjoy the story you’ve created. In the meantime you meet some really great people. Editors and agents will get to see your pitch. You will no doubt compulsively refresh your Twitter page and email to see if you get any comments. When you don’t, it can be crushing.
But keep at it. You never know when connections you’ve made will lead somewhere you didn’t expect. Perhaps my experience will encourage you.
I wrote my first manuscript over ten years ago. Let’s just say…it had a lot of problems. I’ve written several more since then. A few years ago, I started a fourth book and it was much better than the others…and I did some planning…but I got bogged down halfway through. Then I wrote a fifth book about a too-nice kid from a supervillain family. I was sure The Worst Villain Ever would be it—the manuscript to finally be published.
I entered it in #PitMad and other competitions. I submitted it for critiques at conferences and received valuable feedback. A few requests for fulls and partials came in, but nothing else happened. I was confused and more than a little heartbroken. I really thought (and still think, for the record) that this was a good story. Others said they loved it. But no offer came, and I finally stopped pitching this manuscript and went back to work on the one I had abandoned.
I spent the next year finishing that manuscript, working hard with my critique partner. I was in library school and set my writing aside for a few months while doing my internship as a school librarian. I didn’t have much time for anything else, and I didn’t even enter #PitMad that year. I just worked on my degree. Luckily, as a librarian-in-training, that meant reading lots of excellent kid lit and YA, which meant I was still investing in my writing, just in a different way.
But then I received an email one day, out of the blue. It was a notification from Twitter. An editor had requested the full manuscript of The Worst Villain Ever, from #PitMad. I was baffled, since I hadn’t entered that year at all. I went back to see, and sure enough, this was an acquisitions editor from a small press seeking middle grade fiction and she had done a search for #MG #PitMad. Since those were the same hashtags I had used the year before, my pitch for The Worst Villain Ever came up. She said she loved the premise and was it still available? It was. Excited and almost afraid to hope, I sent it off and waited.
Me waiting. Staring at the screen.
It turned out she loved it, but couldn’t take it because they already had a book on their list that was too similar. Oh, the angst! So close and yet so far! But we chatted and she said she liked my writing and asked if I had another middle grade manuscript to show her.
Well. I did have one, that last manuscript I had finally finished. It was YA, though. Was she interested?
I sent her the pitch, she said she’d love to read the full, and then before I knew it, she offered me a contract! What began as a request for one manuscript that I had sent out into the TwitterVerse with fear and trembling the year before, ended up with an offer on another, different manuscript the following year. Life is strange.
So now Fairy Keeper is being published by Curiosity Quills Press. Through the editing process, I changed quite a few things about the book and now it’s upper middle grade and much, much better. Its release date is March 5, 2015. I still can’t believe that something I’ve worked for years to achieve is finally happening.
So I want to encourage you as fellow writers, alone in your office or bedroom or wherever you write: Perseverance counts. Yes, some writers find quick success with their first book. That’s wonderful for them, but if that doesn’t happen for you, it doesn’t mean you should quit. When people say you need a thick skin in this business, they aren’t kidding. Rejection is tough. But putting yourself and your work out there is worth it. You never know who will see your material once you’ve put it out there.
Soon I’ll get to hold Fairy Keeper in my hands—and it’s as beautiful as I could ever have dreamed! Perseverance is well worth the effort.
Pre-order on Amazon
(the paperback will become available March 5th)
Amy writes stories for tweens and teens. She is a former reading teacher who now has her Masters in Library Science. As an Army kid, she moved eight times before she was eighteen, so she feels especially fortunate to be married to her high school sweetheart. Together they’re raising two daughters and are currently living in Germany. A perfect day for Amy involves rain pattering on the windows, popcorn, and every member of her family curled up in one cozy room reading a good book.
Citations for images (all copyright free, but credit is still due):
Aconant. “IMG_3322_edited-1.” Morguefile.> http://mrg.bz/REAIFN < Accessed 1/20/2015.
“Cats on the Slide,” Photobucket.. >http://i1125.photobucket.com/albums/l600/blipdedip/CatsontheSlide.gif< Accessed1/20/2105
Flying Pete. “IMG_2497-310814.” MorgueFile. > http://mrg.bz/qTaZJL< Accessed 1/20/2015
Jade. “Wacky-dog.” Morguefile. > http://mrg.bz/sxXcFp< Accessed 1/20/2015
Snowbear. “cm w3_hm7s_silverbell002.” MorgueFile. > http://mrg.bz/JeTL3R<Accessed 1/20/2015
Chitulescu, Amalia. “Fairy Keeper Cover.” Curiosity Quills. 2015. >https://curiosityquills.com/books/fairy-keeper/<
Very inspirational! And the pictures/gifs are priceless!
Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s an honor to be able to share my story here on Brenda’s blog!
This is the best story ever. Congratulations, Amy. I have two middle grade kids waiting for Fairy Keeper!
Thanks, Carol! 🙂
Wow! Talk about when you least expect something! I mean, how fantastic was that, right?!?!? Congratulation!
Oh yes, it was totally unexpected! A complete surprise, but the great kind. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!
Your story is so inspirational! Lovely post! Thanks so much for sharing! Greets!
Matilda, I’m so glad you were encouraged by my post! Thanks for taking time out of your day to post your comment!
Thumbs up for the post! It is so great that I’ve stumbled upon your blog! I really enjoyed reading your story! 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed my story, Lesley! And I agree that Brenda’s blog is an amazing resource, so I hope you’ll spend some time exploring here! She’s also a great person to follow on Twitter! Thanks for your note!