Attitude, Adjustment, and a Writing Journey By the Numbers
by Michele Shaw
You may have heard that to land an agent, all you need is a really, really great book. While you do need that, I’ve learned how attitude can be just as important. I’m thrilled to say I recently signed with the wonderful Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary. When Karen offered me representation, she commented that while she loved my YA romantic suspense novel, after reading my blog, she also felt I had the right attitude to succeed.
After the shock wore off (OMG, she likes my book!), I thought, “What attitude? Really? It’s about more than the writing?” I scanned back through my blog posts, muttering, “Hmmm, no, couldn’t be the ones about my candy obsession. Pictures of my dogs? Nope. Oh, crud! Did she read that silly high school story I wrote?” I calmed down and decided maybe my posts about rewrites, dealing with rejection, and things I learned along the way let her know I wasn’t afraid to keep at it. That’s not to say I’m shooting sunshine 24/7. I’m human. But, while I have the occasional wallow with close friends, I always try to bounce back and stay positive. Karen’s amazing attitude, work ethic, and overall niceness won me over as well. In the end, it wasn’t just the writing. Our shared attitude about how to get from A to B meant we were a match. Yay for that!
Now, I find myself in an adjustment period. I have an agent. Every time I say “my agent,” I look around wondering who uttered those words. Karen calls me and sends me emails. As in real calls and real emails, not those dream ones I used to have. Yes, surreal is the proper term here. I never planned to give up, but I’ll admit to a few visions of doing the agent Q-dance for years. Me, old and gray, tapping out my query letters. Or even going to conferences with my cane and saying in a quavering voice, “Why, I remember pitching your mother back in her agenting days. How does she like retirement? Oh, my yes, honey. I’m still writing and querying my failing heart out. Excuse me, while I take a nitro pill.” But, seriously, I am adjusting and full of gratitude for this opportunity. I’ve moved up one more rung on the ladder, yet, I know I have many more to climb.
The rest is yet to unfold, but the first part went something like this:
1 idea for a YA novel
3 drafts of the novel (Drafts 1 & 2 didn’t totally suck, but they needed help, and were a *tad* too long.) 3 drafts of my query letter (Drafts 1 & 2 were beyond suck, by the way.)
4 conferences attended (Yay! Fun and full of great people/information.)
5 months rewriting (I called it draft 3, but let’s be honest, it was a rewrite.)
6 pounds of Pretzel M&M’s consumed between chapter 1 and “The End” (I’m approximating on the lowwwww side so I don’t seem like I have a problem.)
7 sobbing and/or cranky phone calls to my husband at work saying, “I can’t do t this!” (The reason it’s 7 is because I moved on to texting him, and then, well, I kinda lost track.)
8 (hundred or possibly thousand) reads of my manuscript from beginning to end
9 (million) times I had my characters shrugging (I had a moment with the delete button. All better now.)
10 beta readers, with 10 different takes on the story (This created a lot of great feedback, a little bit of confusion, and immeasurable learning on my part.)
And, to skip a few, because you need to get back to writing…
19 months from opening the Word doc on this novel to my offer of representation~Which brings me back to…
1 awesome agent + 1 excited writer= infinite possibilities
Good things do happen. Never give up.