Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Writing Journey Part III



For those of you following my writing journey in parts, thanks so much for your support. If you need to catch up, part I is here, and part II is here. And here's part III:


January 2011. We just had our 4th child and the desire to write came back with a vengeance. I knew I had to set goals—some serious goals if I wanted to finish my first book. So it was actually Jason Matthews, my first writing mentor who dared me to finish the whole book by March 17th that year.

I was on fire.

Every moment I could, I was in the document, typing away, pushing myself to get this story out. Our newborn had colic, so he CRIED for hours each night. But it actually worked in my favor, because that’s when I wrote. From Jan-March that year, 6 days a week, I woke up at 3:00 am and wrote with the baby until the kids got up. (Hubby took the baby from 10-3 for me so I could sleep).  There were SO many moments when I just wanted to cry from lack of sleep, from the stress of a hard newborn, and the other kids. But the desire to write kept me in check. I knew that if I didn’t force myself to get this story out I’d never succeed.

But I did it. It was actually 2 days before my deadline that I typed “The End” on my first manuscript. It was time to query. (I’m skipping the part where I beta’d/perfected the MS)

--Now to interrupt for a little bit where my head was at--

I, like some of you (?) thought I had the best/most creative masterpiece that the publishing world had ever seen. Two of my besties had Big 6 deals on their first novels. Why couldn’t I? I honestly expected agents to throw themselves at me. I had no doubt I could succeed, no doubt I had something special to offer. And now I realize I’m coming off totally cocky—which is not the case—I just really believed in myself. (Oh how naïve I was) The truth is, growing up, anything I put my heart to, I succeeded at. Just a-matter-of-fact thing. In my mind, there was no reason not to succeed.

And when I started querying, the requests started pouring in. But so did the rejections. With my first project, I received 28 full requests, which ALL ended in a rejection. Now, I’m not sure how to convey how crushing each rejection was. If you’ve felt it even once, you understand. Each time I sent the manuscript off, I was sure that particular agent was going to feel the magic and want me.

Now, I’m a spiritual person. And I rely a lot on gut feeling. And there was ONE particular agent who I just knew I was supposed to work with. It was one of those “hit by lightning” moments, where peace filled my whole frame and I just… knew. So when I snail mailed off my manuscript to Karen, I ceased to have the anxiety that came with querying. I knew she was going to say yes. To be cliché, every fiber of my being screamed that we were supposed to work together.

A week later my rejection came. It came through the mail, and the handwritten note was the kindest rejection I ever received. She also gave me $20 to pay for mailing costs! Honestly, what agent does that?


I was heartbroken. And it was this rejection that BROKE me. It sent me spiraling into a place I never want to be again. You have to understand, I grew up not knowing what rejection was. Failure wasn’t programmed into my brain. I didn’t know how to handle it. I began to doubt everything about my journey—my gut had never been wrong before. I knew she was the one! So how could my gut feeling fail me?

So I put down the pencil, put away the keyboard, and tried to ignore everything. I could just be a mom, right? I didn’t need to be a writer. Apparently it wasn’t for me. Staying in the writing world was too hard, so I didn’t want any part of it. (And I realize this doesn’t put me in a very good light, but I want to be wholly honest with how I felt.) But I had already signed up to go to the LA SCBWI conference with my dear friend, Leigh, so I couldn’t back out. Not with the trip all planned.

So I went.

And I’m sooooo grateful I did. Long story short (Trust me, this is hard to condense), it was right after a keynote speaker, when the thousand or so people stood to go to their next class, that the crowd parted.

And in walks Karen.

It was one of those slow motion movie moments. It was a miracle I spotted her in the crowd. And she was walking right toward me. I knew without a doubt I had to go speak with her. So I marched right up to her, told her who I was, thanked her profusely for the kind reimbursement, and her kind words on my rejection. And something happened during our conversation. Speaking with her brought the spark back. A piece of the hole in my heart healed. And I wanted to try writing again. 

And it KILLS me to stop here! Because this is where the story really takes off! Gah. It's definitely not over yet. 

Red. Head. Out.

Other Parts: Part I.  Part II.  Part IV. 

37 comments:

  1. You are mean, mean, mean for stopping right there. :)

    Who would've thunk you could've gotten writing done with a cryin baby. Wish that worked with whiny kids.

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  2. Oh my gosh, this is amazing! I'm dying to hear the next part! The "more Karen' part. Because seriously, isn't she the kindest person in the world?

    You know what? I think we've all experienced the "What am I doing? Why am I doing this to myself? Would anyone even care if I stopped writing?" I think those feelings are natural. Now, kicking those feelings to the curb is a part of our job!!!!

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  3. What? You're doing this to me again??? How many parts is this thing going to be? I can't handle the cliff hangers anymore!

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  4. Kills you? At least you know what happens next!

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  5. You don't have to apologize for anything you've said, Morgan. I've been there--the always succeeding at whatever I set out to do (being a writer can really teach an over-achiever a lesson or two, thinking my story was the-next-best-thing, being crushed by what I thought was a sure thing...I've even experienced the kindness of Karen Grencik. She rejected my query; I sent her a thank-you email; a couple of days later she had a change of heart and asked for a partial. (It didn't go any farther than that, but that's a whole story within itself.)

    I'm loving your story. And I really appreciate how you're sharing it in bits. So fun.

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  6. This line totally got me: "I could just be a mom right?" While you know there's no "just" about being mom, because it's the most important job in the world, it's still so hard to put aside your dreams. Another amazing installment about your writing journey, Morgan. Can't wait for the next one, especially with the cliffhanger ending!

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  7. Wow.

    Your agent is awesome. I love this mini autobiography of yours...

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  8. You SO MEAN dropping us off here... That's not nice Sweets...

    Gee.... I REALLY NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS... I AM AT THAT PLACE RIGHT NOW!

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  9. So help me, Morgan! I'm going to start a chant. "We want more! We want more!"

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  10. Will be watching out for part 4. So glad you were encouraged to write again. Rejection is tough but we both know it's part of the business.

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  11. I'm really enjoying your honesty in these posts, Morgan! <3 You're amazing!

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  12. Hey,

    I'm with Linda above... don't ever feel guilty/upset;anxious about how you "come off", cos if you *do*, you'll lose the magic and the honesty that makes this "series" what it is: an honest (warts and all) look into the heart of a great writer (that's YOU, by the way.)

    Thanks for being so darn honest, Morg.... you're amazing :)

    (FABIO told me to add that last part, and to add that Karen is pretty darn special, too :)

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  13. Hi Morgan .. great story - how you write with 4 kids around .. and early on how you pushed yourself so hard .. amazing - well done .. am looking forward to your next part - and funny how life deals us cards ... and we have to pick up the opportunity .. loved it - Hilary

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  14. So sorry for all the full rejections and how discouraging that was. You are amazing for persevering!

    I can't imagine living with a colicky baby that doesn't sleep. Our son slept great as a baby and we didn't get our daughter until she was 16 months so I'll never have to know but I think I would end up in the loony bin or a jail cell. I really don't do well on no sleep. Kudos to you for turning it into something positive and writing.

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  15. Can't wait to hear the rest, and soooo glad you didn't give up writing! (:

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  16. Oh my gosh, right now, I'm feeling EXACTLY the way you did after that rejection. A girl can only be rejected so many times before running out of juice. Maybe I need to go to a conference. With a four-month-old and living on student loans though, that will be a challenge.

    Waiting for the next installment!

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  17. I was definitely the same way with my first book--totally confident it would get me a Big 6 deal right away. Not so much. :) Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!

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  18. Oh, I can so relate to all those feelings. I completely fell in love with my first MS, sent it off and stopped after 12 rejections (you are a heartier soul than I), then started reading a ton of how-to, craft books. Picked it up again and rewrote-- it's better but still crap LOL. And so round 3 goes on. Tell me you have a happy ending!

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  19. I can't wait for the story to continue! I'm still so in love with my first book. Too bad it had to be my first. I hope one day I can share it with the world.

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  20. Don't leave me hanging again! You're so mean. <3 you ;)

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  21. Oh my gosh...she sent a reimbursement? What a classy lady!!

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  22. I love reading your journey Morgan! I had no idea about so much of this (your son!). I can't wait to read the next bit!

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  23. Wow! That was one really nice agent! Too bad she didn't change her mind when she saw you! Good luck with getting your work published.

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  24. Anndddddd the zombies attack?! Please tell me that twist is coming! :-D Morgan, this has been one of the best reads (the entire story) to hit the 'blogs' in a long time for me. Just enjoying the journey, because I know the ending is happy. (You're still writing.) Makes me appreciate and respect you that much more, and I already did a ton.

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  25. I can't imagine how difficult it must've been to wake up that early and write with so many kids. It's bad enough that I've gotten into a very bad habit of staying up way past midnight to write, though I've come to realize it's probably for the best that I've been childfree a lot longer than I ever planned on being. Without any kids, I have more time to write.

    It's great that you kept going even after an unexpected rejection.

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  26. I'm in awe of the writers who have little ones and still find the time to write... AMAZING! Honestly, I don't know how you do it!
    I'm looking forward to the next part!

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  27. Morgan, I am loving this posts! Thank you for being willing to share you story with us :)

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  28. Morgan, I love your candor so much and thanks for sharing with us your publishing journey (it's Big 5 now, right since Penguin and Random House have merged?-I want to be correct). I'm flabbergasted that you could write until 3 a.m. I know you're up that late because of the baby, but my mind ceases to function beyond 10:00 p.m. I would just be a brain dead person staring at a baby.

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  29. Wow.
    Great posts!
    Thanks for sharing with us!
    Heather

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  30. But I want to know what happens next NOW! Thanks for sharing your story, it's truly inspiring.

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  31. Oh my gosh! You keep leaving us hanging!!! Argh!!!!! xD

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  32. WHY YOU STOP AT GOOD PARTS ALL THE TIME?!?! Sigh. Can't wait for the next part... as you already know....

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  33. There are benefits for playing catch up with blog posts like this. The benefit today is that part 4 is already available. LOL

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  34. It really is so difficult when you put your all into something then receive rejection. Karen really did do a wonderful thing when she reimbursed you. That's a very nice agent, indeed. I'm happy to see you came across her again, but I'm even more happy to know that you made it through this rejection with your awesome attitude intact. Can't wait to read the rest.

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  35. Writing a novel with a colicky baby. You. Are. My. Hero.

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  36. I've got the goosebumps! I've had so many moments like what you've described here, I could never even list them. I even had a publisher rejection that was so devastating--not because of what they said, they loved it, but because I was certain that's where I was headed--that bothered me for a very long time. Very, very, very long time!

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