Wednesday, August 24, 2011

28 WOW Wednesday: Julie Musil on the Power of "Going for It"

Julie Musil, today's guest, is a children's author, wife, and mother. She lives in a rural California town amid hiking trails and dirt bikes, and married my high school sweetheart. They have three sons, two cute little doggies, and two leopard geckos, which gives Julie fodder for her YA books. She's been a writer since she was 10 years old, when her Christmas poem was published in her hometown newspaper. Catch her on her website, her blog, or on Twitter.

The Power of “Going for It”
by Julie Musil

Wanna know a secret? When Martina and Marissa asked me to guest post, I panicked. Their blog is amazing, and what in the world could I say that fits in this wonderful place? After all, I’m simply a stay-at-home mother of three with a passion for writing. And then I realized that’s what I loved so much about blogging. It’s regular people, like you, like me, connecting and sharing what we know and what we’ve learned.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to just go for it. That’s a big step for me, because I’m not outgoing. Sure, when I’m with family and friends I’m confident, and sometimes even witty. But put me in a room with strangers or industry pros and I freeze up, lurking behind the courageous people.

But “going for it” helped me write three books and secure representation from a wonderful agent. I’ll tell a brief version of my writing story, hoping it’ll inspire someone else who’s holding back.

I wrote several magazine articles for kids, and had some successes in that field. A major accomplishment for me. And then I wondered if I had it in me to write a novel. I thought why not? Go for it. I finished a middle grade novel, had it critiqued, prepared the query, and sent it to many agents. I received only one full request, which ended in a rejection.

After considerable thought, I wondered if I had it in me to complete a YA novel. Then I thought why not? Go for it. And I’m glad I did. I found that this is where I belonged. I was comfortable in this writing place, with telling a longer story about wonderful teens with heart. Sure, it was an over-written story in desperate need of revision, but I had finished a story I loved and felt passionate about.

While letting book #2 cool, I plotted book #3. An idea came to me, a vehicle for telling this story, that was out of my genre. Did I have it in me to write in a genre I’m not familiar with? I thought why not? Go for it. I wrote the story and fell in love all over again. My heart was in this story. Yes, this one needed a lot of work also, but I’d accomplished something I never thought I’d do.

While revising book #2, I saw an open submission call from a major publisher who normally only accepted agented manuscripts. They were seeking stories about main characters who perfectly matched my MC in book #3. But book #3 wasn’t ready. I hadn’t touched it since writing those final words, and the submission call ended in 30 days. I wondered if I could clean it up in time, and then I thought why not? Go for it.

For 29 days I spent every available moment revising that manuscript. I sent it out to my wonderful beta readers, Lisa Green and Leslie Rose. They read it promptly and sent it back with valuable comments. I revised again, and again, and again. One day before the deadline, I submitted my manuscript.

This publisher ended up rejecting my story, but the silver lining was I had a polished manuscript. I had already prepared my synopsis and query, so I was ready to submit book #3 to agents. I was ready to go for it once again.

I prepared a list of agents, and selected the few I’d submit to first. In the meantime, Lisa and Leslie attended a writing retreat where they met Karen Grencik, a seasoned agent who was partnering with Abigail Samoun and launching Red Fox Literary. My friends thought this agent and I would hit it off, so I added Karen to my short list of first-round agents. And like magic, or like someone else’s literary dream, a week later I signed with Karen Grencik.

I have such a loooong way to go on my writing journey, but there’s one thing I know for sure--amazing things can happen to ordinary people, and we won’t know what we’re capable of unless we go for it!

Tell me, are you holding back or are you going for it? I’d love to hear about your writing journey.

28 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. It's so easy to not go for it when you get down on yourself. And it's important to keep writing like you are. I'll have to remember your advice to take the chance and do it when I have those down moments. Thanks for the advice.

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  2. Very inspiring! We have to go for it if we ever want to get where we want to go! :)

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  3. Love this story. You don't know what could happen if you don't try to go for it!! Thanks Julie!!

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  4. An inspiring post :-) I had a similar conversation with someone just yesterday--i.e. "If I don't try, I'll never know now will I?" So passion for writing, learning the craft, BIC (as Jane Yolen says), and a desire to not give up--hopefully a winning formula. And writing retreats, too, it looks like! Thanks for sharing, Julie :-)

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  5. Awesome post, Julie. You're right about just going for it because what do we have to lose? If we don't go for it, we automatically won't get what we want, so we might as well chase those dreams until we catch them!

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  6. Martina and Marissa, thanks so much for hosting me here today.

    Natalie, Laura P., Heather, and Laura M., thanks so much for your kind comments. It's true...what do we have to lose?

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  7. I'm not going to conference with you then Julie, because we'd be pulling each other to get to the back lol.

    Lovely story :)

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  8. Catherine, you're so right! Sounds like we'd both like to wear one of those invisibility cloaks.

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  9. You are an inspiration, Julie! You have such a big heart and I know going for it is going to payoff for you. I'm delighted to call you agency sister:) You are a supportive, encouraging friend. I can't wait to see where the road leads you next!

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  10. Julie you are such an AMAZING person. I certainly would not be doing what I'm doing if it weren't for your friendship and support. You are the most genuine (yes that's the best word I could come up with) person I know. So talented, intelligent, and - well I'm gushing, but I mean every word.

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  11. I am doing both, only because I am going for it. I have a couple of simple things out for consideration, and my novel is a little stalled because of the extra activity of polishing other pieces, keeping up my blog, writing my online serial and my reluctance to give up fly fishing.

    I'm in way too deep, but if I didn't go for it, I wouldn't be in at all.

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  12. I love the comments here, and I have to say that they completely affirm how I envision Julie's book. I haven't read it, but I imagine it is filled with genuine warmth and great relationships. She's so generous with everyone, I can see her pouring her big heart across every page.

    Martina

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  13. Much enjoyed this post – very inspirational. Thank you for sharing your story. :)

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  14. I love your story Julie! We all need the courage to go for it, and you've provided that inspiration to so many of us.

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  15. Thank you for sharing your story, Julie! It's very inspiring and every writer does need to be reminded to just 'Go for it!' -- if we follow our hearts and dig deep, good things will come :)

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  16. Michele, I can't wait to see where the road leads YOU. I have a feeling it'll be to amazing literary places.

    Lisa, you totally changed my life. Seriously. You inspired me to reach higher, and I'm constantly amazed by your writing skills.

    Dean, never give up fly fishing! I can only imagine how the sound of water rushing by inspires a writer.

    Martina, thanks for the kind words. I'm so thankful for all that you and Marissa do for the writing community at large, and specifically the kidlit community. You're amazing.

    Julie, it does take courage, doesn't it? Not always easy to muster it, but each of us has it in us.

    Melinda, I love what you said..."if we follow our hearts and dig deep, good things will come." And our passion will shine through (hopefully!)

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  17. This is such a wonderful story, Julie, and I'm so glad you had #3 polished and ready to go and found a great agent! :-)

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  18. Susan, thank you! Yes, I was also glad it was ready. It still needed plenty of revision, but...

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  19. If anyone deserves success it is YOU, Julie. From unfailing generosity to your eagle eye as a critique partner, you are tops. The awesomeness that is you and Lisa Gail Green are the fuel for my ability to "go for it." I'm so blessed to have found friends like you two through this wild and wacky endeavor we call writing. xo

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  20. Leslie, you are an absolute sweetheart. *hugs*

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  21. Hey, Julie, so nice to see you on a WOW! Glad you decided to "go for it" for this and your writing. It definitely paid off. I haven't met Karen, but Abigail Samoun is a sweetie! I've seen her at 2 Oregon conferences. Anyway, renewed big congrats to you for making it this far in your writerly journey. :)

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  22. Carol, thanks, and it's so cool that we're all on this crazy ride together.

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  23. Wow, what an inspiring post. Glad I got a chance to stop by and read Julie's guest post.

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  24. Susanne, thanks so much for stopping by. That was sweet of you!

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  25. Julie, it sounds as though you accomplished so much -- tangible, concrete things like finished books! Good for you, and for your philosophy of "Go for it." Well done!

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  26. I love Julie's blog and this post! It's so inspiring to see how going for it can lead to a positive outcome. :)

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  27. Elizabeth, thanks for your kind words. And you've accomplished so much also! It's exciting to see your book for sale.

    Ghenet, I love your blog also! So positive and full of awesome inspiration.

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  28. Julie, that was a really inspiring story!
    And again, congrats on landing an agent! <333333

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