When it comes to becoming a successful writer…

Attitude is everything 2

So the picture featured in my little inspirational poster above was taken on the Routeburn Track on the South Island of New Zealand. My husband and I decided to try out for real backpacking through mountain passes for the first time while we were there. We embarked on a three day hike which started on a nice, warm sunny day through some mossy woods.

New Zealand 419

And quickly turned into three days of straight rain and snow and cold. Thank GOD we packed for it.

New Zealand 495

I may or may not have almost fallen off a narrow cliff path and plunged to my death. Our tent may or may not have almost been washed away during a torrential rainstorm that flooded the waterfalls and actually closed the trails just after we finished. I may have also had to climb up a spontaneous waterfall to get out.

New Zealand 619 New Zealand 621

And this was not the worst part of the washed-out trail:

New Zealand 650

But we lived. And it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I learned I’m a bit braver and tougher than I thought. One foot in front of the other, that’s what I kept telling myself. I’d do the whole thing again in a heartbeat.

New Zealand 658

Okay, so what does any of this have to do with writing? In my humble opinion a lot. Attitude, persistence, realistic expectations, and a lot of hard work, that’s what it takes to make it as a writer. A lot of near falls and unexpected twists and dead ends and bitter disappointments that push you to be stronger rather than give up. It is a long journey to be traditionally published.

Landing an agent is such an exciting thing for an author. Like feels miraculous. And kind of is, given the odds of even getting a request for more while drowning in the slush pile. When I was picked by Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Regal Hoffman, like, I can’t even….

lambeau leap

(What can I say, I’m a Packer fan and it’s game day)

Here’s that story (and a brief synopsis of the work it took to get me there). Preview: I sent my first query letter for a 200,000 monstrosity like 6 years ago…. I’ve come a long way.

Now for those of us who’ve been in the heart-wrenching, barren wasteland that is the query trenches…..

Mordor

Okay, that was melodramatic. Though that’s how it felt to me before I sprouted my armor and started looking at the whole thing like the business that it is. If I hadn’t repeatedly picked myself up and dusted myself off, wrote more books and developed my craft–kept putting one foot in front of the other–I would have given up after my first 20 rejections.

When I started working with Claire, it really hit me. I knew TONS about how to query, but nothing about what to expect after getting an agent. I’ve learned since then, but here’s a preview. My journey is just beginning, even after I finished my first round of feedback. I have a lot left to do, a lot of tough feedback to work through, before Hooligans is even ready to go on submission to editors of publishing houses. And then there will be a lot more waiting and rejections.

I have my work cut out for me, but I know Hooligans will be the best it can be thanks to Claire’s wise guidance.

One foot in front of the other.

New Zealand 477 nat

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3 comments

  1. phantomwriter143 · September 20, 2015

    I’m in the query trenches right now and I think it’s a perfectly reasonable and accurate description.
    Love the pics! New Zealand is my dream vacation. Hopefully one day that dream will come true, as well. 🙂

    Like

    • sjoycarlson · September 20, 2015

      Ha ha. It does get easier the longer you’re in there, I think. You get used to it. 😉 But best of luck.

      And New Zealand is definitely the most beautiful country I’ve been to. I could have just driven around and looked out the window for two weeks. I may do a photo post on it soon, now that I’ve been looking through my photos pining to go back.

      Thanks for stopping by and happy writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Tackling those overwhelming developmental edits | Sarah J. Carlson

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