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.