My Year in Writing

At what point can you call yourself an author??

This is something I have ALWAYS wondered about. I used to think once I got agented it would legitimize the deal in my head. But nope! I still feel like a fraud for scribbling my ideas on scraps of paper at one a.m., or waking up at four a.m. because I just dreamt up some great dialogue, and calling myself any kind of real writer.

I always hear people saying “As long as you have a story to tell, you’re a writer.”

This might be an unpopular opinion but: I have always completely disagreed with that. To me, the thing is, mostly everyone has a story to tell. Most people also have the ability to tie a pair of skates on and stumble onto the ice, and attempt a long program, but that doesn’t make us all ice skaters. I took dance and art classes and to this day I love to play my X Box Just Dance game, or doodle on a napkin. But I am by no means a dancer or an artist.

I do believe if you can commit to something you can be or do anything. So maybe that’s what it takes? Commitment and practice plus confidence? I don’t know.

Ooh. Speaking of skating, I just finished LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, by Stephanie Perkins and I LOVED it. There was a whole ice skating element that got me really hyper for the winter olympics.

Anyway. For me, I know that I LOVE to write books. Plain and simple. It’s ALL I know how to do and ALL I want to do.

Thinking back over this year–my year in writing–it was pretty crazy. Last year at this time I was tweaking my MS for querying after the new year. My plan this time was to go SUPER slowly. I also had my eyes peeled for contests. It seemed a lot of writers were having luck with contests, since agents could approach a blogger with a specific type of MS they were looking for, and the pitches could be narrowed down.

I’d been reading so many things about how chick lit and girly fiction were dying out…well, that’s basically all I write. So you can imagine how happy I was when I discovered a Girly YA contest!

In the end I queried about twenty-five agents total before getting my R&R with Carrie in February via the contest. I stopped querying at that point. I LOVED her ideas and we shared the same vision…plus we totally just cliqued which I’d always heard is of the utmost importance. (More on all that here …ignore the stuff about the MS since it’s changed quite a bit since I wrote that!)

Another thing I learned this year: you sometimes have to just force yourself to get into the head to write. You can’t wait around for the mood to strike. I’ve always known this, but it proved tough around March. My dad was undergoing intense treatments all last winter for the rare blood disorder he was diagnosed with in Sept 2012…he did NOT handle these treatments well at all. Like, everything that could go wrong went terribly wrong. So I found myself revising some scenes in the waiting room of Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital.

Let me tell you this: Sloan is an amazing place. They save lives. That being said, IT IS NOT A PLACE FOR CREATIVE JUICES TO FLOW. I managed to get some things worked on, but it was extremely difficult in such a depressing environment.

*side note* Dad’s perfectly fine now, but me, my mom, and brother are full blown hypochondriacs. Like, “Is this a freckle? Or a mole with irregular borders?? I think the borders are changing before my very eyes! Let me just check Web M.D. real quick–no harm can come from checking Web M.D.–OH MY GOD I HAVE A WEEK TO LIVE AND I TOTALLY HAVE ALL THE SYMPTOMS OF WEST NILES VIRUS TOO.”

We know it’s hypochondria, because we Web M.D.ed that too.

It’s now been a full year from the time I was going over my query list, obsessively referring to Query Tracker, keeping painstaking track of my requests and praying the third manuscript would be the charm. Now I’ve got an amazing agent, been on sub and come out the other side with some ridiculously nice rejections and a WAY better MS, AND I’m working on book number two with characters and a story I adore!

I cannot WAIT to see what the new year will bring! I have a good feeling that 2014 is going to kick 2013’s ass.

So in answer to my original question…at what point will I feel comfortable calling myself an author? I honestly don’t know if I ever will, but my parents and brother bought me this mug after I signed with Carrie, so I guess they’re trying to tell me something?

Also, I don’t normally do new years resolutions, but I think I have one this year: no more Web M.D.!