Lovelies. This post is a bit long, but I hope you'll forgive that, since I have a lot to say.
If you've been round these parts much, you have probably read all about how 2013 was the year I felt like a sham. You may have even read this post about what to do with yourself after a writing contest is over.
So it gives me a huge sense of satisfaction to say that perseverance really does pay off.
Last year, I wrote one (new) manuscript. It was an idea that came to me somewhat gradually, then nagged at me for months until I finally gave in and wrote it down. But even after it was done, after I edited it a bit, I hesitated to let myself get excited about it.
I let it sit for a month, and when I came back and re-read it, I remember telling my husband that it was the best thing I'd written yet. But even after editing some more, I still waited.
Not because I didn't think it was ready. If anything, after all the heaviness in my life, I think *I* wasn't ready. I just needed a break from putting myself out there. I needed some time to build my thick skin back up, especially for this brand new story that I was deeply in love with. In the meantime, I worked on some revisions on another, older manuscript, one that I had plenty of thick skin for.
By April of this year, I was as ready as I was going to get. I was about to start querying when I saw that the same contest I'd entered last spring, The Writer's Voice, was going to be held again in May. I'd had such a good time the year before that I decided to hold off on querying and enter the contest again. In my mind, it would be sort of a personal kick-off to the querying process that would at the very least hopefully net me some useful query feedback.
So when May rolled around and the contest opened, I put my entry up on my blog and held my breath. I was ready.
When Elizabeth Briggs picked me to be on her team, with Krista Van Dolzer as her "celebrity judge," I was elated, but cautious. Their feedback was so helpful and they were both so kind. I owe them a HUGE thanks for all the behind-the-scenes encouragement and assistance they gave me. Plus, bonus Cool Fact: Krista was the other mentor that had picked me in last year's contest, when I'd worked with Monica Bustamante Wagner. I was super excited to work with Liz and glad to have the chance to finally work with Krista.
Still, I remained cautious, keeping my carefully-metered hope tied up in a little box. Even after the feedback was taken into account and the edits made to my query and first page. Even after the entries went live on Elizabeth's blog. Even after 13 agents voted to see my manuscript. Even after I sent my manuscript out to all 13. Even after an email appeared in my inbox on a quiet Monday morning five days after I sent the manuscript.
I was in my mom's car. My visiting sister and her two daughters were in the backseat. My mom was driving us to the beach, one last California hurrah for my sister and nieces before they flew back home to Michigan. I just happened to check my phone, and there was an email there from none other than Sara Megibow, a powerhouse agent whose awesome reputation I knew very well.
I steeled myself as I read the first line, scanning automatically for the word "unfortunately".
Instead I saw the words "offer you representation," and I'm not sure Sara knows this part, but I immediately burst into tears. I could blame it on pregnancy hormones, but I'm pretty sure I was just in complete shock.
I somehow managed to recover my coolness, but before I could email her back, or call my husband to freak out, or do anything, I promptly lost all cell service on my phone. I spent the next hour or so agitating internally while we did our beach visit. My sister asked me as we were getting back into the car how I was being so calm-- apparently I was doing a great job of hiding it!
I did finally speak with Sara that evening. I've heard other writers say when they spoke with their future agents that they just GOT their book. This is 100% true. Everything Sara had to say about my book was absolutely the way I felt too. I could feel her excitement through the phone and it was an awesome feeling to hear someone say such nice, enthusiastic things about my work. I still had 12 other fulls out though, so in order to be fair I told her I'd get back to her in ten days.
That was the longest ten days I've had in a while.
On the morning of the tenth day, I emailed Sara to let her know I wanted to accept her offer. I am now represented by Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency!
I feel like I need to say something motivational here, so I will. And here it is:
Don't. Give. Up.
Keep writing. Keep learning your craft. Keep trying new things. Amazingness can happen.
Stick with it.