Bottle This!

March 29, 2017

Any writer who has persevered through the gauntlet of revising, polishing, querying, and rejections can certainly appreciate the value of bottling the feeling of really good days—the ones where the like of a Tweet, a note of positive feedback, or the process of writing re-energizes you to keep on keeping on. This blog post is my effort to capture and preserve that feeling because it’s been that kind of week for me. 

 

It started with a #PitMad Twitter event last Thursday. I hadn’t necessarily intended to participate, but since I had a modicum of success at a previous event, I thought ‘why not?’ Sure, it had been a while since I last queried about my completed manuscript or worked on my other WIPs, but it wasn't for lack of trying. My day job and our kids’ schedules simply didn’t allow it. I figured if I got some #PitMad responses that it might trigger me to work even harder to sneak in the time to do what I love.

 

I managed to get two Tweets posted. The first was a slight variation from one that coaxed a favorite by one agent in the past (who subsequently passed on a earlier version of my novel). The second, which I posted in the evening after I dropped my kids off at karate practice and while my four-year-old daughter dozed in her car seat, proved to be inspired. The tweet said:

 

Thomas, the Chinese Yankee, fights for his #ownvoices in a war against slavery. Will he find his place in the land of the free? #pitmad #mg

 

The Tweet ultimately got favorited by two extremely well-known and respected agents and two publishers. The excited feeling I got reminded me instantly how important publishing this book is me. It reignited a passion that I had pushed down due to exhaustion with the waiting, lack of responses, and revisions.

 

Also this week, as I was researching the agents and publishers and doing a final, final proofread of my manuscript, I got some really great feedback. I received the following comment about my opening chapters: 

 

From the very first page, where we discover that Thomas is not your average Union soldier, the narrative just rips down the page--and you've done a great job of feeding the reader backstory without slowing down the story. Your premise provides a powerful dramatic hook for the reader as well, and some of my favorite passages in these initial chapters are the ones that point out Thomas's differences from his fellow soldier and his desire to fit in and be more like the people around him.

 

Is there anything better for a writer to hear than “the narrative just rips down the page”? I am printing this comment out and posting it near my laptop just because. There have been so many agonizing days spent on my first chapter that those were like words directly from heaven to me.

 

Finally, the process of rewriting my query letter was excellent. It wasn’t without some stumbling—as I think the first one I sent off wasn’t quite my best—but in perfecting it, I think I came away with something that truly conveyed why this story needs to be told—and why I deserve to be the person to do it.

 

The process of becoming a published author is arduous, but weeks like this remind me why I want to go through it. I have a dream and a passion and a mission to see my novel in print. I am thankful for weeks like this because, even if I don’t receive positive responses to my queries, I’ve been buoyed as a writer and renewed my energy for the fight.   

 

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