Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

Well, this is my last post for the week. We are going on a not-quite-vacation tomorrow and I will be without blogging capabilities. I will miss you Thursday and Friday! Don't say anything too awesome while I'm away :-)

Now for today's post...

In high school I had an AMAZING English teacher. He was brilliant and his class was hard. He was like one of those teachers in movies who makes the kids realize that learning is fun.

He only gave A's to truly exceptional students (which meant he only gave an A every couple years). I wasn't an exceptional student. I worked very hard for a B. But, despite the fact that my English grade ruined my nearly perfect GPA, I loved his class.

We were reading THE GREAT GATSBY (still one of my favorite books) and we had to write essays about the symbolism. I can't remember exactly what I wrote about, but I do remember that after we had turned in the essay and the teacher had graded them, he read excerpts of his favorites in front of the class and mine was among them. It was the first time a teacher had ever complimented my writing (beyond writing an A on the top of the paper). And because this teacher was so tough, I knew he meant what he said.

When I decided to try writing a few years ago I remembered this teacher and others from college who had been positive about my writing. The encouragement they gave me years ago was enough to pull me through months of self-doubt when I was starting out.

Did you have a teacher, parent, youth leader, etc. that helped you believe in your ability to write? I'd love to hear about them.

(I'll see you Monday :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Time is Valuable

It's good to know we all struggle a little being confident with our writing. Thanks for the comments yesterday--you guys rock.

So yeah, today I'm writing about time management again. It's something I think about A LOT.

Confession. I have not brought home a penny for our family since my first daughter was born almost six years ago. Yup, that's right--I am a freeloader.

Luckily my husband has a good job that has allowed me to stay at home with my kids. Neither of us are big spenders so his income has always been more than enough to keep our family fed, clothed, housed, and educated. I am SO, SO, SO grateful for his willingness to support our family while I stay at home.

But even though I don't make any money (yet), I still feel like my time is valuable.

I am often presented with ideas from friends about how I can make money for my family while I stay at home. These ideas range from selling Mary Kay to learning the art of crazy couponing, and my response to these ideas is always, "would it really be worth my time?" Because while I might save $30 on my weekly groceries if I became coupon savvy, if it takes three or four hours of my time to save that $30, is it really worth it?

My time is limited and there are a lot of things that I want to accomplish every day. I want to have snuggle time with my kids, I want to go to the park, I want to sit and read stories with them and help them with their homework, I want to write, I want to exercise, I want to learn more about writing through reading blogs and books and beta reading for friends, I want to spend the evenings with my husband watching movies, playing games, or just talking. Is it worth saving $8 an hour if I have to give one of these things up? The answer (for me) is no.

The answer might be different if we needed that $8 an hour to keep my children fed and clothed. The answer might be different when I am in a different phase of life (like when I no longer have kids at home 24 hours a day). The answer might be different if it was something I would enjoy (like if someone would pay me to taste test chocolate cake or something). But right now my time is better spent on things that make me (and my family) happy. So, you probably won't see me clipping coupons or selling Mary Kay--you may all sigh in relief--anytime soon.

What is your free time worth?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Confidence is Attractive

Have you ever known a person who wasn't good looking but was very attractive? I've known many. I think half of my high school and college crushes were guys who would never be considered hot (and some that couldn't even pass for "okay"). But these less-than-hot boys had one thing in common--they were confident. Confidence is attractive.

I've been thinking about confidence a lot lately.

A few months ago, when I was just finishing Underground, I was talking to a neighbor and he asked what I did for fun and I told him that I was writing a novel. He seemed impressed and he asked what it was about. I brushed him off and said, "Oh, it's nothing. It's just a book for kids."

I've noticed that I use this response often when people ask me about my writing. It's a bad response. It makes the person who was kind enough to ask about my book feel put off, and it undermines my confidence in myself.

So, I'm working on it. I think if confidence can make a short, chubby, hairy guy attractive, it can do wonders for my writing. Plus, it's possible that in the months to come I'll need to promote my book and I KNOW it will be way more attractive to buyers if I am confident about it.

The truth is I'm proud of my little book. It definitely isn't the most brilliant thing ever written, but it was fun for me to write, and most of the people who've read it think it's fun to read too.

Do you struggle being confident about your writing? What are you doing to become more confident?

My Book Club

Okay, first I've got to say the schedule worked out well yesterday! I got my 1000 words, I went to the park with the kids and I even got a little bit of yard work and cleaning done! That said, it seems like my schedules almost always work for a day or two and the I lapse back into disorganization. So the real test will be whether or not it's still working next week.

Moving on...

Four years ago my friends and I decided to start a book club. Most of us are moms and we don't get out much so we thought a book club would give us a good excuse to leave the kids with our husbands one evening a month and get together.

I love book club. We meet every month (mostly) and discuss our book (for a few minutes) and then we chat about LIFE. Some of the books get more detailed discussions and some don't even get read, but all of them provide us with the opportunity to meet.

Last night we had book club. We discussed The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Some of the girls loved it and some hated it, but we all agreed that the symbolism was fascinating. For book club we read a variety of books from classics and memoirs to women's fiction and young adult.

Some of my favorites have been:

A Tale of Two Cities- Charles Dickens
The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd
Life of Pi- Yann Martel
The Book Thief- Markus Zusak
Bridge to Terabithia- Katherine Paterson
Return of the Native- Thomas Hardy

We are always looking for a great book or at least a book that's fun to discuss. Do you have any suggestions for great book club reads?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Plan

Based on your excellent suggestions yesterday I have decided to devise a rough plan for my writing time.

My goals:

1. When I wake up in the morning I will only check email-- no blogging.

2. I will write 1000 words on my WIP before I read or write blogs.

3. I will only write, blog, email etc. before my kids wake up and while my baby naps in the afternoon.

4. I will spend the rest of my day playing with my kids, running errands, and possibly cleaning and doing laundry.

I've tried to plan my time on a more rigid schedule than this and it never works out. I am not the kind of person who follows schedules very well. Hopefully the 1000 words before I can blog will motivate me to get some writing done. I'm going to try for a week or two and see if I can make it a habit.

Do you have any goals (writing related or not) for the next month?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Balancing Act

All of you that said you needed a writing group in the comments yesterday need to get together! I think there were enough people to start one right there. Or go check out the Beta Readers, Mentors, and Writing Partners section at Absolute Write-- that's how we got started.

Now for today's post. Most of us don't write full time. We have a lot of other demands to deal with. So how do we balance writing with all of the other things you have to get done everyday?

I've been bad at prioritizing lately. I've been blogging too much, writing too little, cleaning too little, and gardening too little. My kids haven't gotten enough attention and my dog needs some frisbee time. (Basically I need to spend less time blogging--I get a little addicted and I love reading your blogs because you always have interesting things to say). The only thing I feel I'm doing well is watching television--which I don't do at all.

So for today, I will ask you: How do you schedule your time so that you can do everything you want/need to do everyday? I really need some ideas here, so comment away.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why You Need a Writing Group

First off, thanks for all the congratulations yesterday. You made my day :)

Now here are the top ten reasons you need a writing group:

10. They can critique your work and, unlike your friends and family members, they won't just nod and smile and say, "Oh, this is great!" They'll give you real feedback, and your writing will improve because of it.

9. They can answer questions that regular people can't. Like, what does dystopian mean? or how do I make my novel "high concept"?

8. They can send you their awesome manuscripts to read and feed your creativity.

7. They can sympathize with you when you get rejected.

6. They can celebrate with you when you get an agent, or an editor, or ten weeks on the NYT Bestseller List (We can dream :)

5. They can send you funny and/or useful links

4. They can help your pitiful new blog get started (thanks girls)

3. They can understand why you might rather stay home and write on a Saturday night when your significant other/friends can't.

2. They can keep you motivated to write more, because you don't want to let them down.

1. They can become more than just a writing group

I LOVE my Word Stringers! We met when the beautiful and talented Megan Rebekah decided to start a writing group. She invited people via her blog and the Absolute Write Forums and we came running.

There are 4 of us who have stayed involved and, through some combination of luck and destiny, we get along very well! They are all very talented, but more important than that, they all have DIFFERENT strengths. They were a fantastic resource during the revision process and have been right there with me through everything. We email each other almost every day now, and I love to see what they are up to, read their work, share frustrations, and celebrate with them.

It is awesome to have people to talk to about writing, and though I've never met any of them in person, (they all live on the opposite side of the country from me), they are great friends.

So here they are: (aren't they cute!)

They all have wonderful blogs and I think I've linked to them (crosses fingers) in case you want to check them out (most of you probably already know them--they are blogging queens).

Do you have a writing group? (If not you NEED one!) What do you love most about it?

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Agent

I signed the agency agreement on Saturday, so it's official. My agent is Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency! YAY!!!

I LOVE Sara! She's brand new to agenting but she's had loads of experience pulling great manuscripts out of the slush pile, like Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (if you haven't read it, you should--it's beautiful). She is enthusiastic about Underground, and I'm very excited to be one of her first clients.

Back in April I sent NLA a query. They were at the very top of my list, mostly because I loved Kristin Nelson's blog (she was so nice!). At first I thought I would wait to submit to them until I'd sent a few more practice queries, but when I got a full request off the first query I sent out, I felt confident enough to send to Nelson too.

They asked for a partial a few days later and then a full a couple weeks after that. I was shocked that I'd made it that far with such a stellar agency, so it came as no surprise when I got the rejection letter a week later. What I was surprised by was the letter's detail. Sara highlighted the things that she loved (the voice) and gave me specific examples of things in the story that needed to be stronger. She also told me that if I decided to rewrite they would look at it again.

So, of course, I started to rewrite. I stopped querying, I stopped working on my new story, and I rewrote Underground for two months. I made major changes, cutting entire chapters and adding new ones and completely rewriting the beginning and end. By this point I had my writing group and each of them read over sections of the manuscript and offered invaluable critiques. By the end of the revision I felt much more confident about the manuscript.

I sent out another practice query and got a request the next day. (I got plenty of rejections too, I promise. I just got lucky with the first query I sent out in each batch.) Feeling encouraged I emailed Sara to ask if she would like to read the revised manuscript. She said yes!

A month later I was sitting at the computer looking over my agent list and trying to decide who I should send a query to next, when the phone rang.

So there you have it. Sara told me I go her attention the second time when she opened up the document and found a brand new first chapter. She said often when a writer sends revisions they don't change much. She could tell I'd put some work into it and she liked what I had done.

I am thrilled to be working with Sara. I feel so blessed to have gotten this far and I'm excited about the possibilities the future holds. I finished revisions last Friday (or at least the first round) and I can't wait to start working on a new story!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Things that got neglected while I revised

I've been working on revisions for my agent this week. The things she wanted fixed were pretty minor, but I get a little obsessed when I start a new revision--I just need to get it done.

So I've been working hard. With my focus on the revision some of the other things in my life have been neglected. These are the things that haven't been given enough attention lately.

Our poor, poor vegetable garden.
It's needed attention for weeks, and for weeks my attention has been elsewhere.

The laundry (this is only one basket... there are 4 that need folding)

Cleaning (or even convincing the kids to clean)

The kids and the dog. I am ashamed to admit it, but there has been a lot of movie watching at our house this week. Luckily my three kids have each other and they play great together... when they aren't fighting. (Just so you know, I haven't totally neglected them. They are still fed and clothed and my baby has spent most of the week sitting on my lap as I type at the computer).

The good news is I'm almost done with revisions, and next week I plan to spend a lot of time at the park. (We'll see about the cleaning and the laundry.)

Do you ever let things slide in favor of writing?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On Getting the Call: Do as I Say Not as I Do

Be prepared. It's the Boy Scout motto and if you are querying it should be your motto too. The phone could ring any second, and you want to be ready for it if it does.

My first call from an agent came on a Thursday, morning. It came without any warning and it went something like this:

Look at caller ID. See agency name. THE agency name. That same agency name that I'd been visualizing on my caller ID ever since I sent the first query.

Try to remain calm. Let it ring 3 times and try not to let my voice crack as I answer the phone.

Me: (trying to sound nonchalant) Hello.

Her: Hi is this Natalie?

Me: Yes

Her: This is Amazing New Agent with Fantastic Agency. How are you?

Me: (trying to hold back a squeal) Good.

Her: Well, I'm calling because I just finished reading your rewrites for Underground. I loved them and I'd like to offer you representation.


Her: Yes.

Me: No way!

Her: Yes. Do you have any questions for me?

Me: (Silence)

It wasn't that I was completely unprepared. I had a file marked "Questions to Ask an Offering Agent" that I had been adding to as I read agent blogs and discovered all the things that author should know about an agent before they sign.

The thing was, I never actually thought I'd get to USE them. So instead of asking her anything important, I just sat there in silence while she told me all the things she liked about my book and I said "I'm so excited," and "I'm just so excited," over an over again.

Luckily she is a very kind and patient person and she didn't retract her offer then and there. She asked if I had any full manuscripts out still (I did), and told me I should probably let them all know I had an offer and give them a deadline to respond if they were interested too. Then she told me if I thought of any questions that I wanted to ask I could email or call anytime. (yes, I am now allowed to CALL the agency! I haven't done it yet... but I could if I wanted to.)

I emailed the questions just as soon as I got off the phone with friends and family members (5 hours later).

When the second agent called I was a little more prepared. She emailed first to say she wanted to talk. I had my list of questions out during our conversation and I managed to refrain from squealing--mostly. (I think I slipped when she mentioned she'd worked on my favorite YA book EVER!).

So I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here besides BE PREPARED! That phone call could come when you are least expecting it and you don't want to sound like a want to sound like a star-struck teenager (or like me).

Have any of you with agents handled the call with grace? If you are still in the query game are you prepared?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Querying: Or How to Become Crazy in Just One Easy Step

We all know we've got to query if we want to get our books published (or I guess we could have a close personal friendship with someone really important who believes in us-- like maybe Stephen King or Stephenie Meyer).

Unfortunately querying also makes us crazy... or at least it made me crazy. Before I started querying I could sit down at my computer and write without checking my email first. I could continue to write for an hour or two (as long as the baby was still asleep) without opening my Internet browser once.

After I sent that first query I became an email checking junkie. First thing in the morning I'd rush to the computer to see if someone had replied. I'd check again an hour later and every hour I was home, until I checked for the last time just before I went to bed. If I was out running errands I'd think about my inbox and wonder if I might be missing some important correspondence from an agent. When we were on vacation I'd have to track down a computer every few days just so I could make sure I hadn't missed something.

I could rattle off stats like nobody's business. "As of this minute I have sent 13 queries, I've received six rejections and two requests for full manuscripts. Of the 5 agents left 2 should respond in the next week, 1 could take as long as 3 months and 2 say no response means no."

I'm still slightly obsessed with statistics. Like I could tell you that my first query yielded a 1 in 5 request rate while my second query was closer to 1 in 10 and that my overall request rate was about 1 in 7. And that only 4% of my queries ended in an offer of representation.

I'm hoping that now that my agent search is finally done I can stop being quite so crazy and get back to what I enjoy--writing. But I'm thinking that my anxiety will just switch from agent to editor submissions. Nice.

Does the query process make you crazy too? Or are you one of those people who can send a query and forget about it? (HOW?)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Great Resources for the Query Process

So, I let you in on one great resource for query writing yesterday, and I thought I'd share several more today, along with a few websites I couldn't have done without while I was researching agents.

Query Writing:

The Public Query Slushpile- this is a fantastic blog started by a fellow aspiring writer. People are able to post their queries and get advice about how to make them better. Some of the criticism is harsh (I know from personal experience), so make sure you have a thick skin and a real desire for feedback before you venture in. Also, if you post a query it's nice to leave feedback for others, too. (My first attempt and the query that got my agent's attention are both posted here)

Query Shark- I'm sure most of you know about this one. At Query Shark, agent Janet Reid gives query advice to people brave enough to have their query ripped to shreds. Just reading the queries that are already posted there is extremely informative. You can get a sense of the things that immediately annoy agents and also read several fantastic queries.

Charlotte Dillon's Website- several people mentioned this was a great resource yesterday and I agree. I loved the page with all of the winning query letters.

There are a lot of other blogs that focus on query writing. (The industry blogs listed on my sidebar all have wonderful posts about writing query letters.)

Searching For Agents:

Agent Query- This is a searchable database of agents. What I love is that you can search by agent, agency, clients or even book titles, so you can find out who represents your favorite authors.

Preditors and Editors- A fantastic resource for background checking agents. Do you want to know if an agent has sales? If they charge fees? If they are members of AAR? All of that information is available at Preditors and Editors. A Pink Recommended after an agent or an agency is a pretty good indication that an offer from that agency should make you very happy. A red Not Recommended should definitely make you think twice before querying. If there is neither a Recommended or a Not Recommended (this is the case for most of them) then you might want to do more research.

Bewares and Background Checks at Absolute Write- These are forums where writers can discuss their experiences with agents or agencies from query response times, to feedback (or lack thereof) from manuscript submissions, to what agents are like after they offer representation.

Publishers Marketplace- If you pay the $20 per month subscription fee you can search all of the deals made by agents (or at least the ones they reported) since 2000.

After You Query:

QueryTracker- This is mostly an organizational tool, but I found it very helpful. You can select agents you want to query and keep track of them after you query. Under the Reports and Statistics bar you can see the response times of individual agents as well as the genres they have requested pages from in the past.

I hope this wasn't all review (I'm sure it was for some of you). These are the websites and blogs that were most helpful to me during the query process. Do you have any favorites I missed?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How to Write the perfect Query Letter

This week I thought I'd write about finding an agent. I figure most of us have queried in the past, are doing so right now, or will be querying in the future. (Plus it's a topic that is very fresh in my mind, since I sent my last query just 2 weeks ago.)

So look out blog readers, I'm about to tell you the secret to writing the perfect query letter.

Here it is:

1. Write a summary that makes the book sound better than Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games.

2. Have a ton of writing credits and hopefully at least one work that's been on the NYT Bestseller list for 10 weeks or more (or maybe a Pulitzer)

3. Remind the agent that you've been best friends since kindergarten.

See, it's easy.

When I first started researching query letter writing, I wondered what on earth I was doing trying to get a novel published. My story was definitely not the next Harry Potter, I had never had so much as a limerick published, and I didn't know ANYONE in the publishing industry, .

My first 30 attempts at query writing failed miserably. Then I came across a blog that gave a simplified approach to writing a query letter. The blog author suggested the writer fill out a worksheet of important elements in the story and then combine the elements into sentences to form the pitch and the rest of the query. This fantastic blog held the first practical query writing advice I'd seen. It made the process easier. I filled out the worksheet and played with combinations until I finally had a query that had voice, conflict and a reason to care about the MC (albeit, still not a single publishing credit). It wasn't the perfect query letter, but it was so much better than any attempt I'd made before.

I sent it to an agent the next day, and two days later my inbox sang with a request to read the full manuscript.

What has been the most helpful tool for you during the query writing process? Have you come across any great advice that you'd like to share?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Revising: Why Does It Have To Be So Hard?

A couple notes first. My awesome friend totally pimped my blog tonight, (I have absolutely no blog pimping talent of my own), so thanks Jay.

Second, I got ANOTHER call yesterday. It was awesome to talk to another agent who loved Underground, but when I hung up my stomach clenched, and I realized I was going to have to make a choice. I spent all afternoon and most of the evening weighing the pros and, well, mostly just the pros of each agent and trying to decide who would be the best for me, my book, and my career as an author (wow, it feels weird to type that). Let me say, it was a really tough choice. Both of them are very nice people, both were super enthusiastic about my manuscript, and both are with very respected agencies. I knew I couldn't go wrong either way so in the end I just went with my heart. I'll sign the agency agreement next week, and after that I'll let you all know who I chose :)

Okay, back to today's topic, Revising.

Honestly, revising is the only reason I don't love writing all the time. Revising is difficult, it's messy, and it takes so much time!

Here's a story for you. I promise it has a point.

Last weekend my in-laws were in town. The last time they visited I mentioned to my mother-in-law that my girls blankies were getting kind of ratty (My mother in law is an incredible quilter-- this was a hint). So during this visit she got out the squares that she's been working on for their blankies. Incredible. They were butterflies made of like 20 little pieces of different colored fabric. She said that she wasn't quite sure about a few of the fabrics and she wondered if she should just discard those squares and start over again. Discard them! After hours of work! The suggestion made me absolutely sick until I reminded myself that quilting is her art and she wants the finished product to be as perfect as it can be.

Of course, this reminded me of revising. I revised for several months before I queried the first time. Then, based on the suggestions of an incredible agent, I revised again.

Some of it was painful. I had to throw out some perfectly good scenes just because they weren't perfect for the book. I would change one little thing that resulted in a domino effect of deletions and additions throughout the whole manuscript. There were a few parts I enjoyed, like writing new chapters and talking over new ideas with my husband as he tried to go to sleep. Most of it was hard. But, even though I didn't enjoy the process as much as I did writing the first draft, I could tell that the revisions made the book stronger.

I'm headed into a few weeks of agent revisions now. I know they are going to be tough but I'm also excited to see how they improve the story.

So you tell me, what is the worst part of the revisions process for you and how do you press forward when it gets tough?

On Writing

When I first decided to write a novel I went to the Library and checked out Stephen King's On Writing. I got so much out of it! I took in his rants about the overuse of of adverbs and non-said dialogue tags. I got a sense for how competitive the world of publishing is (and resigned myself to write for fun and not try to get published). And I realized that the only way to get better at writing is to write. I read the whole book before I ever put a word on the page and I'm sure his advice helped my future bad writing to be a little less bad.

After I finished reading On Writing, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Then I read what I wrote six months before... and cringed. But at least I could see that my writing was getting better.

I don't have a writing process. I just write and revise over and over again until I feel pretty good about what I've written. I am am not an expert on grammar, punctuation, or non-was verb usage, but I have beta readers who are (thanks girls :). I am, without a doubt, not a brilliant writer. But I can write a good story, and I can do it with a convincing voice and I think that's the most important thing.

So how did you learn to write? (Really, I want to know. I could use some pointers :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Idea

I often wonder how authors came up with great ideas. I mean, how did JK Rowling imagine the magical world of Harry Potter and how did Suzanne Collins come up with the concept for The Hunger Games? (If you haven't read it you are missing out--get to the bookstore!) When I read a un-put-downable new book my first thought is always, "How did they come up with that idea."

When I first started writing I didn't have very good ideas.

Then one day, during a very bad windstorm last winter, our lamppost blew over. My husband was anxious to fix it, so he went off to Home Depot, bought a new post, came home, and started digging out the old one. He dug a very deep hole in order to remove the old post. It was dark outside by the time he finished it.

I looked out the window at my husband digging in the dirt and I remembered that my dad used to tell me stories about digging tunnels in a vacant lot near his house when he was a kid.

A light bulb flipped on in my brain and I got the basic idea for Underground.

I started writing that night and had the first draft done two months later.

It seems like most of my ideas come out of the blue (when I'm not thinking about trying to come up with ideas :).

How do you come up with story ideas? Can you sit down and brainstorm and or do they come when you least expect it?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Why I Write

Sometimes I ask myself, "Why do I write?" It's not as if I don't have other things I should be doing, like cleaning my house or pulling weeds in the garden, or making a dinner that didn't come in a box I bought at Costco. Sometimes I sit down at the computer and have to force myself to type a few paragraphs on my work in progress, or rewrite a scene that's been bothering me. It isn't always fun.

So why do I feel compelled to do it?

I am a stay-at-home mother of three kids-- three clever, adorable, and somewhat rambunctious kids ranging in age from 2 to 5 (yup, that's 3 in 3 years, we're crazy). I love being a stay-at-home mom, and I'm not just saying that. I love that I get to be with them all day long and that I get to enjoy all of the little moments that make parenting worthwhile. Like when my five-year-old came up to me a few weeks ago with a piece of paper covered in words that she'd spelled all by herself-- including mome (mommie), dade (daddy), and my personal favorite kmpyooder (computer). Or when my two year old says "Mom, wanna nuggle?" and then hops up on my lap and snuggles for a few minutes just because.

So I love what I do. I can honestly say there isn't anywhere I'd rather be every day. But... sometimes I feel like all I do is feed them and clean up after them and keep them from fighting with each other. Sometimes I go days without speaking to another adult (aside from my husband). And sometimes I wonder why I even bothered graduating from college.

When my oldest was about 2 I decided that I needed to be doing something creative--something to remind me that I have a brain. I tried quilting... um, lets just say that wasn't my forté. I took a pottery class and I loved it, but I wasn't really great at that either.

The next year I decided I wanted to write a book. I'm still not really sure why. I always kind of liked to write, my first degree was in Print Journalism, but I'd never done much creative writing. I loved to read though, so maybe that was it. For some reason I started and I stuck with it and for the past two years I've poured almost all of my creative energy writing fiction.

After a few months of neglecting my house (because I was using my baby's nap time for writing instead of cleaning), I found that my kids and husband still loved me, and I was happier. Writing was good for me.

I sometimes feel like a bit of an upstart when I read about how other aspiring writers have dreamed about writing books since they were eight-years-old and they've written 28 full length novels since then. I began writing when I was 26-years-old, a week after I gave birth to my 3rd child. Now I write because it's what I do. Writing is my outlet. It reminds me that I am a creative being and not just a cleaning machine. And it makes me happy.

This makes me wonder about other people's motivation for writing. So I'll ask you:

Why do you write? Or if you aren't a writer, what is your creative pursuit and how does it enrich your life?

Friday, September 4, 2009

What are the odds?

I've been meaning to start a blog about writing for the past few months, but the events of yesterday spurred me into action.

This is mostly because yesterday I got a call. From an agent. A fabulous agent with a really wonderful agency. YAY! I'm still so excited and I'm breaking sentence structure rules!

She offered representation! She said I was wonderfully "talented" (this might be my new favorite word). And that she's super excited about my middle grade novel, Underground! And that all the people at the agency thought my middle grade voice was perfect!

Anyway, I can't say yet who the offering agent is because I have a couple of full manuscripts still being considered by other agents. But I think I should be able to say for sure by the middle of the month.

Anyway, I'm pretty excited about this! It kind of feels like I won the lottery! I know a good part of this was just luck and I feel very, very, lucky. It doesn't mean my book will be published, but it does move it one step closer :)

So, if you want to be my friend and follow me through the perils of editor submissions and (hopefully) beyond, welcome.