Katie Mills (Creepy Query Girl), DL Hammons, Alex J. Cavanaugh and Matthew MacNish (Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment),are co-hosting the ORIGINS blogfest. Here's what is going on: On Monday, February 13th, you should post your own origin story. Tell us all where your writing dreams began. It could be anything from how you started making up stories as a child, or writing for the school newspaper, or even what prompted you to start a blog. How about stories about the first time somebody took an interest in your writing, or the teacher/mentor that helped nudge you along and mold your passion, or maybe the singular moment when you first started calling yourself a writer. It all started somewhere and we want you to tell us your own, unique, beginnings.
See the entire list of participants HERE.
The Beginning Is Part of the Journey
Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood. ~ Jane Yolen, author of The Devil's Arithmetic
The very beginning probably started when I dreamed up fantastic stories to tell my friends. For example, in grade school I told my friend Lisa that I explored a cave near my house. I brought evidence to school in the form of colored rocks (created with large gravel and markers). Did you know that cave rocks are colorful? I thought they must be. I concocted an elaborate story to entertain her and then, of course, I had to produce proof. It ended with an interrogation from her mother. So, I told a creative story that didn't have one shred of truth. Was that so bad? My exploration tales would have made great short stories.
Step 1: Query letters
Let's fast forward to the first time I submitted a complete manuscript for someone to read. I had always wanted to be a writer, and decided to go for it. I wrote a contemporary romance novel. I submitted for the first time to Silhouette in the summer of 1996. I sent additional query letters to a list of publishers and agents. These were the days before Querytracker.net and other nifty resources.
This piece of paper looks ancient. It appears to be part of the United States Constitution, but it's not. Really.
Silhouette and others sent me rejection letters. One day, I received an offer in the mail. It was a large packet containing book flats, a contract and a letter. I was very excited and then disappointed when I realized what the publisher proposed. They wanted me to kick in some funding. I was naive, but I knew that couldn't be how it was supposed to work. I emailed (barely invented at that time) an author published with them. I asked her if she contributed to the printing of her books. She responded that the company had been very good to her, but she had never been asked to pay anything. I declined the publisher's offer.
Crestfallen is the only word that describes my state for a while after that. I had no support from fellow writers as we do today. I didn't even tell people I had written a book. I felt very alone. Not long after that, I gave up.
A couple of years ago, I decided that I would try again. This time, I checked into resources, took online writing classes, read blogs, and joined writing groups. It was a tough decision but not one I regret. You cannot be a quitter in this business. My first book, a YA fantasy called The Waiting Booth was published last summer. The sequel, Whisper of Memory, will be out next month. So, keep those rejections and disappointments in a file to reference later. It's all part of the journey and makes success that much sweeter.