Wednesday, January 25, 2012

6 WOW Wednesday: Megan Bostic on Always Working to Improve

Megan (that’s with a long “e”) Bostic is a mere human trying to find her place in the universe. Despite the rain and gray (she’s truly solar powered) making her extremely angsty, she’s lived in the Pacific Northwest her whole life, and still does, with her two crazy beautiful girls. You can find her Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer on Youtube, or find her on her website, Facebook, blog, or Twitter account.

I started writing novels in 2002, but will fast forward to the particular novel being published, Never Eighteen. I wrote Never Eighteen, then called Mending Fences, during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2008. Any book written in 30 days is going to be a real mess. I polished it up a little and entered it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (ABNA) for that year. I’d entered the year before and made the semi-finals. That year, um, nope. Got ousted after the first round. I sat down and did some major revisions then sent it to different people to read—from readers to writers to people in the business I’d connected with. I took their suggestions to do yet another draft and another. By the time I felt I was finished, I was at Mending Fences, version 15.0 (that’s how I name all my novels to keep the rewrites straight)

I began querying to agents in March 2009. While many requested partial or full reviews, I got no takers. I kept going religiously for a year, taking breaks only twice to write two more YA novels (which thus far both sit collecting dust). In February of 2010, I’d decided to take the book off the market, and do another set of revisions before sending it out again.

But wait, there’s more.

A friend of mine sent me the name of another agent, Irene Kraas. He said that even though she ended up rejecting him, she gave him some good feedback, which is something agents don’t often do. I thought, what the heck, what’s one more rejection, and sent her a query. She asked to see the first fifteen pages, then the first fifty, then the entire manuscript. Within ten days of sending her the initial query, I had a contract for representation in my hands.

I did a couple more rounds of revisions at Irene’s request, and by the end of March, she was sending the manuscript out to publishers, five of them to be exact. I was in Disneyland at the time, and remember constantly checking email on my phone to keep up with what was going on. April 9, 2010, we received an offer from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It was awesome that I was in Disneyland with my husband and daughters to celebrate.

I think what made the most difference for me in the shift from writer to author was being able to take constructive criticism and using it to make my novel the best it could be. We think of our novels as our “babies”, and having someone tell you your baby is ugly, hurts. I’ve learned to take a step back from criticism for a day or two, absorb it, then take what is useful, and disregard the rest.

I think the worst thing an aspiring writer can do is to give up. You can’t get there if you don’t try. Yes, the critiques are hard, yes rejection is hard, but if you want to achieve your dreams, you have to keep going. I have one more very important bit of advice, and that is, never stop trying to be better. You will never reach perfection, but if you keep practicing and keep learning, you will continue to grow as a writer.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing the advice. It's awesome that you didn't give up on your manuscript and started querying it later after you did more revisions and after it sat for awhile. And I'm glad I'm not alone in having 15 or more versions of my manuscript.

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  2. Thanks for another inspiring "WOW" Wednesday.

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  3. This has to be my all time favorite 'what was I doing when the call came'. :D

    What a great way to celebrate your book contract even though that's not why you were originally in Disneyland.

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  4. Great story! That many rounds of revisions can get maddening. I'm not sure what round I'm on and honestly, I don't think I want to know. But you're right. We have to keep going and working toward improving. Sometimes that means giving up on certain books (never easy), but other times, I think the ones that are meant to be out there just won't let us give up on them.

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  5. Thank you for this! What perfect timing, as I'm swallowing some rejections right now. I just read Never Eighteen (Katy Longshore Passed It On to me) and am so glad you kept working on it to get it out there on shelves so people can read it!

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  6. Very inspiring post. I hear over and over again that you have to keep practicing and learning, and it's nice to see examples of that hard work paying off. And Disneyland is an awesome place to hear about a book deal. :)

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