Wednesday, October 15, 2014

8 Agent Critique, Prize Pack and Erin’s Compulsion for Writing Story

Writing a book is hard.  Getting published is hard.  Most writers (myself included) have several manuscripts that will never see the light of day, and enough rejection letters to wallpaper the entire house.  And so when Martina and Lisa asked me to join them for the Compulsion for Writing Party, I immediately said yes.  I love the idea of encouraging and supporting other writers.  And like Martina and Lisa, I have thought about throwing in the towel on this whole writing business, and am very glad that I didnt! 

Why did I keep writing?  Because I am a writer.  I am not a writer because I am published.  Being published was a dream come true, but even if someone could tell me for certain that I would never be published again (and I hope thats not true!), I would still keep writing. Publication is the goal of many writers, but it isnt why we write.

Publishing is a business. Writing is not a business. It is a passion. It is a compulsion.

We write because we cant not write.

How do you know if youre a writer? Writers wake up in the middle of the night when a story hits them or they finally know how to resolve a dilemma or a plot twist. Writers listen to the voices inside of their head characters shouting at us tell my story! Writers talk to their family and friends about an idea or a character until those peoples eyes literally glaze over. And writers write. They sit down with a notebook, pen perched in hand, or at the computer and bang away at the keyboard, staying up late into the night or getting up in the wee hours of the morning, skipping gatherings and favorite shows because they just need to finish that scene.

About a year and a half ago, I had an idea for a novel.  As I walked the dog, these two characters kept talking to each other in my mind arguing, no less.  When I closed my eyes at night I saw images of a fog-covered lake and a dark impenetrable forest.  I dreamt about it. I talked about it.  I drew (well, scribbled) it.  I simply had to write it.

I discussed it with my agent, and she told me that a fantasy novel would be hard to sell. She wanted me to write a different kind of book in a different genre which was highly in demand. I put aside the fantasy, and tried to write that book. But my heart wasnt in it. It was a chore. Usually when I work on a manuscript I cant wait to find time to write. I go through my day, eager to finish work and whatever else I need to do and eek out time at my laptop. Instead I was folding laundry and vacuuming, because I didnt want to work on that book.  I hate laundry and vacuuming.

Months went by. My house had never been cleaner, but I had written very few pages. I started to wonder am I really a writer?  Wouldnt a real writer be able to write in any genre?  I went back to my WIP and took another look at it.  Maybe it wasnt as bad as I remembered.  It wasnt.  It was worse. If I wasnt excited about my manuscript, how could I expect a reader to be? How could I finish it?

And then I had an epiphany.  I needed that love of writing, that passion, to spend the hours upon hours required to finish and revise a novel.  If I didnt have it, I couldnt do it.  I sat down and started working on the book that I wanted to write. The story that filled my head.  I talked to my agent, who was kind and supportive, but again told me she didnt think she could sell it, but she would try.  I realized that if she wasnt excited about my book, she couldnt possibly sell it.

Terrified, I thanked my wonderful agent for all she had done for me and terminated my contract. I went from being agented back to square one, even knowing how long it had taken me to find an agent the first time around.

But I kept working on that fantasy novel. I sent it to my fabulous critique partner and wonderful writing group.  I revised, and revised, and revised.  Was it hard? YES! Did I love it? YES! (Well, mostly yes. I could not whip one pesky character into shape until draft 7 or 8.)  I wrote it knowing it might never be published or maybe even agented. But I was okay with that.  Ive grown as a writer through the writing, and as Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time once said, You have to write the book that wants to be written.  

I finished revising Uncharted and sent out a dozen queries.  Within a couple of weeks I had an offer of representation from Amaryah Orenstein, who recently left the Laura Gross Agency to establish her own boutique firm, GO Literary. We talked on the phone for over an hour, and she loved the manuscript.  She got my writing.  We talked about genres and trends and my current fantasy WIP.  I felt confident that she would be my toughest critic and my fiercest champion.  (And, if that wasnt enough, shes a very lovely person!) I am thrilled to announce that I accepted her offer, and look forward to going out on submission soon. 

But, no matter what my future holds, I will keep writing, because I am a writer.

Amaryah Orenstein
If youre a writer, and you need some encouragement, or you want to give some, please join us at our COMPULSION FOR WRITING PARTY AND PRIZE FEST!  There will be fabulous prizes, including agent and author critiques, but more importantly its a really nice place to share an inspirational quote or thought or story.  My prize package will be yummy chocolate and tea, gourmet treats, a big mug, a pretty journal, a gift card and I will read and comment on 3 chapters of a manuscript.  In addition, my lovely agent, Amaryah Orenstein, will read and comment on a query and the first 10 pages on a manuscript. 

Thanks for reading my compulsion for writing story.  Whats yours?  Put it up on the Facebook event page anytime between now and October 22nd to be entered to win!


  1. I SO need these kind of posts!! It's hard sometimes to keep going, but when I hear stories like this, it whips that fire back up inside me and I keep on doing what I LOVE!!

  2. I am so, so glad that this post gave you some encouragement! Keep at it and don't give up. Remember why you write - because you love it!

  3. What a wonderful post. This is what so many of us need to read. Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much, Rosi! My first published book was the fourth book I've written (and that doesn't include unfinished WIPs). So many times we don't believe in ourselves, or listen to negative people around us, and forget why we love to write in the first place.

  4. Hooray for amazing agents and the courage to do the hard thing because it's the right thing. :D I'm so glad you're with us, Erin!!

    1. I'm so glad to be here, Lisa! And hooray for you, too!!! I can't wait to read your new books! The trick is to keep believing in ourselves, I think. And that can be the hardest part.

  5. Thank you for your article. Every now and then, it's nice to have the reminder that we write because we HAVE to write.

    For the moment, I have found my compromise with the whole need to write versus the desire to get published by writing for local organizations. I get to support causes I believe in, while also knowing my words are being read.

    At the same time, I am working on a novel. Will it ever see the light of day? I don't know. But I do know that I will spend as long as I need to on it, because this novel needs to be written. And with every version, it feels a little closer to what I want.

  6. Hi Allison, that's great your revisions are going well! It never totally lives up to our vision, I guess, but the key is revising, revising, revising. Good luck!


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