Today's guest was a tomboy/animal lover/aspiring actress who staged lip-synched productions of her favorite musicals since she couldn’t sing. Eve Marie Mont's love for athletics and animals remained, but the acting bug was soon replaced by the writing bug. In fourth grade, she wrote her first chapter book entitled, The Only Tomboy in My Class, and she was hooked. Now Eve teaches high school English and Creative Writing in the Philadelphia suburbs and sponsors her school’s literary magazine. When not grading papers or writing, she can be found watching the Phillies with her husband, playing with her shelter pup, or daydreaming about her next story. Visit her at any of the links at the bottom of her guest post. Stop by and say hello!
Keeping Your Unwavering Passion to Write
by Eve Marie Mont
I’ve been teaching English for the past fourteen years so I’ve always loved literature, but I never seriously considered being a writer. It seemed too pretentious. Too unrealistic. Besides, I was a full time teacher; how would I ever find the time? But then a colleague of mine wrote a book and asked me to read a draft for him, and I thought to myself, Why couldn’t I do this? I’d had an idea swimming around in my head for a while—a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. (This was right around the time the publishing world was experiencing a Jane Austen renaissance.) So I plunged into writing the book, and after about a year, I had a manuscript. I wasn’t sure it was any good, but it my first novel—my baby—and I’d created it myself. I went so far as to get my friends and family members to read it, and their encouragement made me think I might actually have a shot at getting it published.
I had heard that if you want to get published, you had to have an agent. So naively, I dashed off a query letter, researched agents who represented women’s fiction, sent the letter out to about fifty of them, and waited like an idiot for the offers to start pouring in. And waited. And got rejected over and over and over again. And cried.
It was a serious wake-up call. I had no idea how competitive the publishing world was or how much work it was going to take to break in. My query letter had been adequate, but not nearly original or polished enough to catch a busy agent’s eye. But more important, I hadn’t earned my writing chops yet. I’d jumped into novel writing without ever having studied craft, plotting, pacing, or characterization. And I certainly hadn’t put in the requisite time revising and editing my manuscript to make it sing. This was long, long ago in the blissful world of “Before.”
That may sound strange to hear that my pre-published days were blissful, but in a way, they were. It was very freeing to write a book just to see if I could do it, not to worry about expectations or sales figures or social networking. I was writing for the sheer pleasure of the process. But the realities of the publishing world had tainted all that, and the rejections had been so soul crushing, I didn’t think I could go through the process again.
Now, I don’t have children, but my friends who do, speak of “pregnancy amnesia,” the phenomenon in which a mother forgets all the pain and anguish that accompanied her pregnancy so she is willing to go through the process again. I would say that the writer’s journey to publication is a bit like this, because no writer would willingly put themselves through all the torment and pain of rejection if it weren’t for some form of temporary amnesia.
So eventually, the pain faded and the writing bug hit again. I dove into a new project, Free to a Good Home, in December of 2007. By spring break of 2008, I had outlined the basic story and written the first few chapters, and then I wrote like crazy over the summer to finish the manuscript. I used the lessons I’d learned with my first manuscript to bone up on craft, revise relentlessly, and research the best places to send my manuscript. Rinse, repeat, and more rejection.
I was demoralized and frustrated. But I tried to remind myself why I’d started writing in the first place: because I love to write. If that was true, then I would write a dozen novels even if not a single one ever saw the light of day. Despite this realization, I knew that publication was a goal of mine, so I followed up with all the agents who hadn’t responded yet. After a few days, one of them wrote back to me and said, “Hey, we must have missed this the first time around, but we like what we see.” That person ended up becoming my agent, the lovely and talented April Eberhardt from April Eberhardt Literary. From there, she and I worked to polish the manuscript, and April sold it in four weeks. Cue the cartwheels and caviar!
This April 1st, about three years after that first sale, I will be releasing my second novel, A Breath of Eyre, the first in a young adult trilogy. At the same time, I will be revising the second book in the series and brainstorming and outlining for the third. Despite thinking writing would get easier with time, each book poses its own set of problems and challenges. And marketing/social networking could be a full-time job unto itself. But this is what makes writing so exciting and rewarding. While some aspects of the process are incredibly stressful, writing is a job in which you’re always pushing forward, creating, learning, sharing, thinking. It’s certainly never boring.
When I look back at my publishing journey, the most crucial factor for me in transitioning from a writer to an author was maintaining my persistence and belief in the face of frustration and rejection. Writing can be a solitary and disheartening profession, and the road to publication is hardly ever easy. Most writers admit to writing multiple novels, facing countless rejections, and confronting numerous personal demons before ever getting published. And it doesn’t stop there. Self doubt and fear of failure can be paralyzing to published authors as well. No one in her right mind would persist through it unless she truly loved the journey. In the end, it all comes down to having an unwavering passion to write.
Links for Eve Marie Mont’s A Breath of Eyre, April 1, 2012 from Kensington Books:
YouTube trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHSSa6KCnmQ