2016 has been a year of such blessings in my writing career—connecting with new CPs, signing with an incredible agent in the springtime, getting a book deal with a dream publisher this summer, having the chance to co-mentor for Pitch Wars this fall with my dear friend and CP Amanda Rawson Hill. There’s so much to be grateful for (that book deal chief among them, of course!), but as I’ve thought about writing this post, one thing has stayed in the forefront of my mind:
Even more than the agent, even more than the book deal, I’m so very grateful for the way my writing community has deepened and broadened in 2016. I’ve been surrounded by like-minded friends and acquaintances whose passion and commitment to their own writing has inspired me to new heights in my own career.
I’ve had critique partners who pushed my writing to become better than I thought it could be.
I’ve had friends to commiserate and laugh with me when drafting feels like pulling teeth, or when the ideas come so fast I can’t possibly write them all down.
I’ve had a community to turn to when the rejections poured in and felt endless, when I was certain that I’d never be able to write anything sellable, when I felt like I was stagnating with no hope of moving on.
I’ve had writing friends who have become “life friends”—the people I turn to when I’m feeling overwhelmed with parenting, the people I texted when my husband got his dream job this spring, the people who help me figure out how to balance a writing career with the rest of my life.
Early in this year, I was at an all-time low point writing-wise: I’d run out of agents to query on my current project, the book of my heart. I’d gutted and rewritten that book as part of Pitch Wars 2015, and had such high hopes for it—but none of that work had been enough to catch an agent’s eye, and I was sure that nothing I’d ever write would make the cut.
One night in February I walked around and around my neighborhood in the dark and the rain, debating the merits of just giving up writing once and for all. Fiction had always been such a big part of my life and my self-identity, but lately it was seeming like more pain than joy. When I got home, my phone was full of e-mails and text messages from two dear friends, both of whom were filled with love and encouragement for my writing journey.
Due in no small part to the healing and buoying effect of their support, I went on to finish revising the book I was working on, which ended up getting ten agent offers and going to a publisher auction—something I’m absolutely certain would never have happened if not for the brilliant feedback from my critique partners and beta readers.
This year has been a red-letter year for me: Literally the year in which so many of my lifelong dreams have come true. I’d be lying if I said that signing with my agent and connecting with my editor weren’t highlights of my year—but neither of those things would’ve been possible if not for the support of dear friends, critique partners, and the love and encouragement of my writing community.
Cindy Baldwin is a Carolina girl who moved to the opposite coast and is gamely doing her part in keeping Portland weird. As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of someday writing just that kind of book. Her debut middle grade novel is forthcoming from HarperCollin’s Children’s in 2018. Find her online at www.cindybaldwinbooks.com and on Twitter at @beingcindy.