Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On Tenacity

A couple weeks ago, I blogged about my frustrations with publishing, how it’s so hard to keep going, to keep doing even the thing you love doing when you’re feeling crapped on in every direction. Rejections, crickets on full requests, the close calls that are never close enough, and the permeating feeling that I am nevereverever going to get The Call make it difficult to press on in the writing biz. Despite the fact that I’ve written seven complete novels and handfuls of other unfinished drafts, this go-round of querying has left me feeling very defeated. Frustrated. And completely bombarded by What’s The Point thoughts.

Last week this group of girls (and my husband) shut those thoughts up real quick. Hopefully permanently.


Soccer is a beautiful game, but it’s also a very cruel one. The better team does not always win. The stronger team will sometimes fall. I’ve watched my husband’s teams take the pitch for twenty years now, and in those twenty years, I’ve watched several strong girls teams advance to many rounds of the playoffs, including eight regional finals. Those regional finals? They’re the decider of the Eastern Champion, the last game before State Championship Game. They decide who will go and who will stay home. They’re exciting. But they’re also heart-breaking. I’ve seen a few one-goal games decided by cheap corners or garbage fouls or PKs. 

There’ve been a lot of close calls. 

But never close enough.

Last year’s regional final was probably the worst. We played our conference cross-town rivals, and both teams were amazing. On both sides of the ball, there was hunger, determination, and a lot of really good soccer, and the draw on the scoreboard at the end of regulation proved it. The game was still tied after two ten-minute overtimes and two five-minute golden goal overtimes. That’s 110 plus minutes of soccer, people. The game then went to penalty kicks. Theirs went in. Ours didn’t. And once again, we had made it so close. But not close enough.

And enough to maybe make most people want to give up.

But not my husband’s girls. They came back this year with a vengeance, determined to get to State Championship. So, in the off season, they continued to play soccer with their clubs, but as a team, they spent pre-season working out at a local gym, encouraged and fired up each other through group chats, and bonded as a team so that they could achieve their dreams.

They did. They won the conference championship, sailed through four rounds of the state playoffs to reach the regional final where they faced their cross-town rivals. 

Again.

The game was heart-fought. The other team scored in the first two minutes but our girls came back, tying the game up, then scoring the go-ahead goal. With three minutes left in regulation, the other team scored, sending the game into overtime. Our cross-town rivals scored off a penalty kick. Never defeated, our girls tied it back up. The game went into PKs and this time, our girls owned it and won the game.

And sent us to the first-ever state championship.

I could stop this post here. These girls came together as a team, spit adversity in the eye, and made school history. But they had one more battle to face, and hoo boy this was a big one. The team we were facing in the State Championship Game boasted an undefeated record, seven D1 commits and a 6’2” giant midfielder who could score one mean header. On paper we should’ve been clobbered. But nope. Our girls rose to the competition, they never gave up, and they left it all on the pitch.

The scoreboard said we lost. 2-1. Whatever. These girls will forever be champions in my heart. Their NEVER SAY DIE attitude, their belief in each other and in their dreams, their incredible poise and tenacity in the face of adversity are beyond inspiring. Also, they’re really freaking good at what they do. And they are SO fun to watch. I’m so proud of them. And I wish the whole world could know how awesome they are. 

They’ve certainly re-inspired me to keep pushing for my dream. Frankly, we can all learn a lesson from them, don’t you think?

Oh yeah, and State Championship Game? Don’t miss us too much. We’ll definitely be back.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Updates and such...

My husband frequently reminds me that I take forever to tell a story and get to the point so I’ll get to the point of this post before I elaborate…

  1. Sorry I’ve been MIA from everything online.
  2. Publishing is hard. And discouraging. And makes me kinda sad.
  3. Fortunately, the rest of my life is pretty awesome. So, there’s that. 

So.

Cue elaboration.

The writing life’s been a spectacular suckfest lately and, when that’s the case, I tend to hibernate offline, shy away from most forms of social media. It’s a petty, selfish, bad friend thing, but it’s also… healthier for my state of mind. So, I’m sorry. Sorry I’ve not been around much to read good news or send positive vibes. I know some of you have told me that you miss me and well, I miss all of you too.

Writing a full-length novel can make you feel like the biggest success and the biggest failure, sometimes simultaneously. You write a story. You revise it a couple hundred times until you might feel like it’s good enough for someone else to read and critique. You revise again. And again. Send it out some more. Revise it a couple more quadrillion times. You feel like you have something that you’re really proud of. It makes you laugh and cry—every time you read it. Your CPs love it. Some even say “This is the one!” 

Then you send it out. 

And despite the requests and the nice rejections, no one in the publishing industry seems to want it. 

I’ve been through this awesome process several times. I’ve written probably the equivalent of ten manuscripts, probably am zeroing on the proverbial millionth word. Since my second manuscript I’ve sent out into the publishing world, I’ve won my way into first page contests, the Writer’s Voice (twice), Xmas in July, and Pitch Wars. I’ve had R&Rs. A lot of full and partial requests on various manuscripts. Close calls.

But never close enough.

These days, I’ll get a full request and barely get excited about it. The rejections sting a little less, possibly because I’m jaded to the whole thing now.

The hope has waned. Because I’m still over here. Twiddling my thumbs. Agentless.

And writing these days, man. It’s hard. I have a really horrible case of What’s The Point Syndrome. Some days I can power through it and immerse myself in my story. Most days, I’m overpowered by thoughts of “What’s the Point? No one’s ever going to want this.” or I question every word choice and sentence, afraid I’m going to offend someone or a reference is too old school or the story is just plain stupid. 

I spend a lot of days wondering if it will ever be my turn. If I’ll ever get the call. And despite trying to channel all that out, the thought of never being traditionally published makes it ridiculously difficult to write. 

I’ve tried taking a break, going to a writing retreat, taking another break, working on something else, taking an online class. They work for a little while, but eventually I return to the same place, mired with plaguing doubts and “what’s the point” thoughts. 

Worse—I feel like I’ve lost whatever writing mojo I may have had.

(Ironically the story I’m trying to revise is titled BELIEVE. Ha.)

I know there are plenty of people who’ve been through this. Lincoln failed countless number of times at his bid for President and he finally broke through (and then was assassinated, but I digress). JK Rowling was rejected fifty gazillion times before someone picked her up. I have a number of friends who’ve finally, finally broken through the publishing wall and have books coming out within the next two years so yes, I know, I know, I know. Persist. Don’t give up. It will be your turn soon!

But do we really know that? What about all those people who spend lifetimes pursuing their dreams and never achieving them to the level of success they set out to? Am I going to be that person? And then part of me wonders, maybe I think I’m a better writer than I actually am. Maybe I’m like one of those people on American Idol who thinks they can sing but ohmygosh they so can’t. 

I know the road for everyone is different. It still doesn’t stop the thoughts and feelings that it’s never ever ever going to happen for me.

I’m sure wannabe mothers understand this. Some people seem to have the easiest time getting pregnant. Some people try for years before they can have a baby. Other people try their whole lives and are never successful. I remember trying for at least a year with both my children and when I wasn't thinking about it, that’s when it happened.

And I know that’s probably the case here… when I least expect it, I’ll get that call or whatever. The problem is I’m always thinking about it. Working on “something else” makes me think abut it. And this waiting?

Absopositively sucks.

Writing-wise I’m just in a really sad, discouraged, bitter place right now. And idk if it will get better anytime soon.

Anyhoo. 

So, I’ve been doing other things that DO make me happy. I’ve actually been watching television (I know, shocked me too)— The Walking Dead, Amazing Race, and I’ve fallen in love with Survivor all over again. I’ve probably seen Star Wars one too many times (never!) and Parks and Rec and, of course, soccer. I’ve been working on the tan. Tutoring. And reading a LOT of good books.

And while the writing life is kind of crappy, the rest of my world is doing pretty fine. I’ve been spending as much time as possible with the people who mean everything to me (aka my family) We’ve had a lot of game and movie nights and focused family time. I’ve been to see some great musicals with my daughter. I had an awesome getaway with the hubs to Asheville in March and then returned to that area with the family over spring break for spelunking and hiking and college visits (oy). My son’s made principal’s list three straight nine weeks, the husband’s girls soccer team is doing really well, and my daughter’s killing it in school. She just got named a Quest Bridge College Prep Scholar, a National Merit Scholar nominee (which means she’s guaranteed a commendation), and she scored crazy high on her ACT too. 

So, if me not ever getting an agent means my husband’s girls finally go to State Championship or my son continues to do well in school and my daughter ends up being a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist, then bring it. I’d be VERY okay with not ever having an agent if those things were to happen. 

But still.

Anyway. I don’t tell you all this for your pity or advice or whatever. This is just where I’ve been and why and I’m sorry I’ve not been around to know what’s going on in your lives. I can’t promise I’ll come out of my hermit status anytime soon, but I hope you’re doing well and things are going much better in your writing world.