Working Hard

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but believe me, that’s a good thing. There are things happening in my writing world that are under the hood, but will ultimately propel me forward once the time is right and everything aligns.

Here’s what I’ve been up to since my last update:

  1. Working on a R&R for an agent I sent my MS to over the summer. There was great feedback, encouraging and challenging. So I’ve been revising, which hasn’t been bad for the most part. Of course I get my days of crippling self-doubt. What writer doesn’t? But then there are the good days when the ideas flow so fast and hard that I don’t even want to take time to eat dinner.
  2. Met Rena, my new best friend who also happens to be one of my favorite readers and cheerleaders. I never thought I’d find a new best friend at age 40 (now 41 eep) but here she is. Just what I’ve been needing and I adore her. She’s one of those people who energize the whole room when you’re around her, and she’s so smart and just amazing. I am so lucky!
  3. Applied for, and got accepted to the Writing in the Margins Mentor Program. I’m thrilled and I am also nervous. My mentor is a very successful author and I’m excited to be working with her.
  4. Joined Maggie Stiefvater’s Critique Partner Match Up. Honestly, when I posted my info and pitch, I didn’t expect any bites, but the response was overwhelming. I ended up sticking with three from that match up: Sarah, my cheerleader who is amazing at picking up inconsistencies, repeated words, and little things that are so easy for me to miss because I am so close to the MS. Reagan, who challenges me in ways that make my ego go ALL THE NOPES but once that gets pushed out of the way and reason sets in, make my book so much stronger. And there is Rachel, who is the perfect balance between Sarah and Reagan. She pushes but also heaps praise when warranted. Rena is balanced just like Rachel. I feel like I have the perfect mix of critique partners, and after flying solo with this project for so long, it’s good to have the outside perspective.
  5. Got invited to the most amazing tribe of writers who are all of color. The support in this group is overwhelming and makes me want to cry happy tears from time to time. I am so glad to have found this safe space of people who have each other’s backs and who are teaching me so much.

In a few months, I’m going to be ready to send my new and improved MS to the agent who requested the R&R, and I’ll be getting ready to start that fun process of querying. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that big time, so I know that I have to prepare myself mentally. Years of being away from this process, and years of breaking myself open with yoga have made my skin thin and I need to tap into … something … and build up my strength again. Here are some things I’m working on in regards to that:

  1. Remembering that it’s not personal, it’s business. A rejection is no different from me picking up a book, reading the back cover, and thinking “not for me.”
  2. Building up my network of supporters who indulge me a little, but also help me see things in an objective way.
  3. Changing my mindset! This is the most challenging one. I have to believe in myself and my writing. The self-doubt is a normal part, but sometimes I go beyond and I worry that I’m self-sabotaging. It’s time to stop that. It’s time to change my vibration. That, mixed with hard work, will attract success.
  4. Not rushing. Taking my time to do things right. It’s hard. I feel like I’m running out of time. I don’t know if this is a real thing or if my mind is playing tricks on me. The temptation is to rush so I make myself take time away every week.
  5. Not giving up even though I want to every four days.

I’m ready to be past the “You’re close but…” and right in the solid “Yes, yes, all the yes!”

Ronni’s Rules of Writing**

** That she may or may not follow herself but would like to try OK and why am I writing about myself in the 3rd person?

  1. It’s OK for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. drafts to suck. You’re just experimenting, playing around, trying things on for size. This is the fun part, even though it’s super painful at times.
  2. Stop comparing your 1st drafts to published works. Those drafts will never measure up and that’s OK.
  3. Don’t get discouraged when you inevitably DO compare your 1st drafts to the published works.
  4. Don’t compare your writing path to others, especially those in the places you want to be.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take risks and tell your truth.
  6. Write at least 100 words every single day. Or at least every other day.
  7. Read. Read read read. (this one is easy)
  8. Don’t feel like you have to follow every piece of writing advice out there. Not everything works for every writer.
  9. On that same note, don’t use the ole “checking out writing advice” as an excuse to keep from actually writing.
  10. Effing WRITE.

Overwhelmed, Intimidated, and Inspired

YA Lit 2015

This past weekend was the Anderson’s Bookshop 2015 YA Literature Conference. I’d had such a great time last year that I had to go again this year, especially when I saw that Huntley Fitzpatrick was going to be there. I didn’t want to be driving back and forth to Naperville, especially with the conference starting so early on Saturday, so I booked a hotel room at the same hotel the conference was being held. This was a Very Good Decision. Friday night I arrived, and I saw people hanging out at the bar, but I was too tired and sick to be social. I went straight to my room, turned on America’s Next Top Model, and eventually fell asleep. I was up bright and early for the conference Saturday morning, and snagged a seat at the front and center table. This never happens. Usually I attend these things with Adam so I feel kind of obligated to sit with him, but this time I was *free*. Ha. The tables were numbered, so we had no idea which author we were getting. We ended up with Ally Carter!

Anderson's YA Literature Conference 2015

I will spare you the details of the conference, but I will tell you that it was wonderful and worth the $109 price tag. There were panels, keynote speeches, breakfast and lunch, and plenty of time to get books autographed and photographs with the authors. The most value for me came after when I got to hang out with the authors, where I learned remembered what I love so much about the YA Lit community.

  1. I’m still pre-published, so I don’t consider myself an author (yet). It didn’t matter. These people took me in and treated me as one of their own. I got to hang out with some authors who are a big deal (James Dashner, Michael Grant, Marie Lu, just to name a few) and none of that mattered. It was, at its core, a bunch of people who love telling stories hanging out and having a good time together.
  2. The YA lit community is like a family. These people have each other’s backs completely. The encouragement they gave each other, the affection they showed for each other, the friendships they have run deep, and run long.
  3. I want to be part of that successful, published community. I want it so badly I can taste it. In a way, I am a part, but I want to be *official*. I think other pre-published authors will get what I’m saying. Being around the level of success I was exposed to Saturday and Sunday was inspiring and fulfilling. Why not me too, right?

Someday. I know it.

While there, I made friends, especially with two amazing women, Dawn Kurtagich and Jenny Moyer. Sometimes you just hit it off with people, and that happened with them. I’m so glad to have found my writing “tribe” that I’m kinda over the moon about it.

<Anderson's YA Literature Conference 2015

Jenny, Dawn, and Me

A couple of other things I learned:

  • James Dashner is the nicest, coolest guy I have ever met. (Well, 2nd to my son, anyway.) He is funny, kind, and genuine. I’m so grateful that I got to hang out with him.
  • Michael Grant is a well-known and best-selling author, and after talking with him for hours, it’s easy to see why. The man is a master storyteller. Talking with him is easy and fascinating.
  • New York Times Best-selling authors still worry that they’re not good enough.
  • Some authors take serious charge of their careers, and it’s fascinating to see how far they’ve come because of it.

Anderson's YA Literature Conference 2015
James Dashner and Me

I was on a high over this conference for days, but as always, the self-doubt kicks in. And it’s kicking in now. I was listening to a lot of these people describe their work. The books they have published, the books that are coming out, the books they have yet to write. And I wonder if I will ever measure up. I don’t write epic adventures with huge plot twists and extensive worlds. I write love stories. Simple and straightforward. I start to doubt my writing—is it any good? Will anyone believe in it enough to put it out there in the world?

Will I ever realize my dreams?

And…I get quiet. Discouraged. And intimidated as hell from being surrounded by so much sheer talent, while I wonder if I’ll ever measure up.

I know I’m not supposed to compare myself, my path, my work to others. But it’s going to happen. I am human. So I sit here processing all of this, trying to figure out where I belong anywhere in this world.

So that’s where I am now. I’m writing, still writing. Still grateful that I reclaimed that joy back in 2013 and that I haven’t lost it again. Still chasing dreams. Still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I think I know. I say “think” because I’ve been down this road before, and I got so discouraged that I quit for many years. But I’ve come back to it. That has to mean something. [1. Plus, every time I attend an event like this, at least one person asks if I’m one of *the* authors. I always answer “not yet.” Universe, you heard me. Do your thing! I’m ready, even if I sometimes try to convince myself that I am not.]