Thursday, April 15, 2010

Going with MY Gut

Okay, so...yesterday we talked about what it means to go with your gut and why it's so hard. And I promised that today I'd talk a little about how I've been forcing myself to go with MY gut lately--and the things I've learned in the process.

Not sure if you realize this, but I've had to make some CRAZY decisions these last 6 months. I completely rewrote the last 1/3 of my book, queried, signed with an agent, and now I'm completely revising huge chunks of my book again.

So there's been a lot of OMG WHAT DO I DO????? 

And I've found my way by going with my gut.

Has it been easy? 

At times. 

Signing with Laura was pretty simple. 
(it was basically OMG YOU WANT TO REP ME--OKAY!!!!!!)

But other times it's been terrifying. 

Like querying Laura in the first place. 

I never told you guys this, but I had other agents request my pages at the conference where I met Laura. One even requested a full instead of a partial. 
Only problem?
They were all amazing. 
They were all with Andrea Brown. 
And I could only query one.

The obvious choice was to query the agent who'd asked for the full. She was awesome and sweet and, um, she asked for the full! 
But...I had a good feeling about Laura. 
So after three weeks of obsessing (and the numerous people I emailed for advice can testify to this) I realized I already knew what to do. That 'good feeling' was my gut telling me something.  And it was time to stop ignoring it. 
I think you know the rest from there...
(*Happy dances*)

Except, now I'm in revision--and working with an agent is very different from working with CPs. I feel obligated to accept every note she gives me, because, um, she's LAURA RENNERT--I'm pretty sure she knows better than me. 

But I still have to trust myself too. 

There have been a few times where I could agree with her "issue" but maybe not her solution--and I was so nervous about deviating from her notes that I was psyching myself out of revising altogether. So I finally decided to go with my gut.

I revised the chapter the way I thought it needed to be, sent her the pages to check (along with a lengthy email explaining my reasons for the decision) and tried not to panic as I waited for her reaction. 

LOVED them. 
(*Happy Dances again*)

My solution still addressed her issues, so she was happy with the changes I did and didn't make.

Does this mean I'm going to ignore all her suggestions? 

Of course not. 99% of them are so spot on I kinda want to smack myself for not figuring them out on my own.

But for that tiny 1% where it's a little iffy?
I'm going with my gut. 

Even though it doesn't feel like it, I *might* actually know what I'm doing. Well...sometimes. And I have to trust myself enough to listen to my instincts. 

It's not easy. And it's definitely scary. But it's working.

So I STRONGLY encourage you guys to do the same.



I have no doubt you'll find your way to exactly where you want to be. :)


  1. Thanks so much for this reminder. Great post and so very true. :)

  2. Shannon - I REALLY DO see your point but I'll just reiterate what I said yesterday...personally I don't want to go anywhere near the chaotic area below my waist...


  3. Great advice!!! I can see how gut-wrenching (ha, ha) it could be to have to decide between the advice of a veteran and what you feel is true to the voice of your characters but I think that you're absolutely right that since your agent liked your book enough to take it (and you) on and represent it, you're better off going with your gut in those situations. :)

  4. Thanks for sharing more of your signing story, Shannon! I'm about a month away from my local SCBWI conference and hope to have my ms done-done by then. I also plan to query one of the fabulous agents at Andrea Brown...

  5. I'm right there with you! So very true.

    And where did you find that picure of me ;)

  6. What an inspiring post and as writers we often need to be reminded that it's okay not to take someone else's opinion because that is indeed what it is... an opinion an alternate option to help you decide what route to take your character. The journey is up to you!

    But way to go with your gut!!! You truly are the one who knows best for you and your story!

  7. Nice gut. Much better than the last one.

    Yay for you following your instincts, yay for Laura, yay for changes, and soon--yay for a big book deal. :)

  8. Great post and great gut!! (hee...)

    You stated following your gut clearly. We all waver. It's part of being not just writers but human. I think the first step is to give ourselves permission to waver, reconsider, ponder...and from there, listen to that inner voice that really does see more clearly than we do.

    Thank you.

  9. Great post. It is scary going against someone who "knows better." But as the writer, I guess we do know a little, right?

  10. Uh, could I borrow your gut...and agent?

  11. Is my gut where all those weird ideas come from? I thought it was my brain. Now I'm confused. Does what I eat affect what kind of fiction I write? Like, if I eat too many beignets will I start to sound like John Kennedy Toole? How about if I drink too many cocktails... will I start to write like Hunter S. Thompson? Ooh! The possibilities!


  12. This is a great post. And so true. It's really easy to doubt ourselves as writers. Sometimes we just have to go forward with faith that we are doing the best thing.

  13. Really enjoyed this post and helped my confidence a little. Rock on!

  14. Great post, Shannon, and great advice! :-)

  15. I hear my gut. I hear it scream at me yet sometimes I still plug my ears - I need to stop that. You are so right and thanks for the reminder!


    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

  16. You're very good at going with your gut! Also I know you stole that picture of me! Hehe, ok now that's my wishful thinking.

  17. You know, you don't have to flaunt your excellent gut in front of the rest of us...great post!

  18. This is excellent advice. It's also some of the hardest for writers to take. Every CP that tells us to do something, we want to do it. It takes practice with weeding out what works for your story, your voice, your charcters, and what doesn't. At least it did for me. I'm glad you're following your gut!

  19. just listening to yourself can sometimes be the hardest thing.
    you have very nice abs by the

  20. Awesome post, great advice ... and nice abs! :-)

  21. I've done A LOT of revisions too, and I totally agree. When my agent gives me suggestions I take them very seriously, but sometimes I fix problems in ways different from her suggestions. Usually, she likes it anyway and I feel like I've been true to myself and the story.

  22. Ha, maybe if my gut looked like that I'd follow it more often ;)
    In seriousness, awesome post. It's good to be reminded that I'm in charge of my story every once in a while.


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