Thursday, April 8, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes...

Okay, I'd been thinking about this post for a couple of weeks, but when I read Elana Johnson's post on Monday I was inspired to finally write it.

Writing is slow. Publishing is even slower. So it's easy to feel like the days drag on with nothing really happening, while that elusive dream of being a writer seems continually far off on the horizon.

But have you ever looked back and seen how far you've come?

For instance, one year and four days ago I was a girl with an idea I was too scared to write. I'd been researching for over a year, I'd written a few scattered scenes (all of which SUCKED, by the way) and I was completely terrified to even call it a 'draft.'

But then I went to an event called Project Book Babe on April 4th in Arizona and met real writers for the first time. There were ten authors there--all of them amazing--and they were all at different points in their careers.

(Clockwise from top left: Brandon Mull, Chris Gall, P.J. Haarisma, Stephenie Meyer, James A. Owen, Janette Rallison, J.S. Lewis, Dean Lorey, Laini Taylor, and Shannon Hale)

But they had one thing in common. They were all writers--fearlessly churning out words and turning them into books that I could actually buy in stores and read and love. I knew I wanted to be one of them...but I don't think I really knew how much I wanted to be them until that day.

So I left that event with more than just signed books in hand. I left there ready to be a writer. No more staring at a blank screen afraid to put down words. No more waiting until the scene was perfect to put it in the draft. I used the advice they'd given me and I dove in and wrote MY FIRST DRAFT.

And...ten months (and 14 drafts) later, I was finally ready to query--albeit slightly unwillingly. Two weeks into querying I had an offer of representation from my dream agent, and here I am now--in revision Hell yet again--but making Draft 15 sooooo much better--maybe even good enough to sell (though knowing me, I'll need at least one more revision. *sighs*).

If you'd told me back then, "Psst, Shannon. Get crackin' on that draft so you can sign with Laura Rennert next year" I'm sure I would've laughed and called you crazy. But here I am. And I'm not saying that to pat myself on the back because, dude--no one is more stunned than I am that I've made it here. Plus, I still have a LONG way to go (*decides not to think about the nightmare of subs.*)

I just wanted to share my story because I know so many of you are struggling along the same path and I know how it feels. I know it feels endless. I know it feels like you're not getting anywhere.

So do me a favor.

Look back.

See how far you've come--because I guarantee you, you've gone further than you think. And if you stick with it I have no doubt you'll get where you want to be. Day by Day. Word by Word. You're getting there. So keep at it and don't give up!

And, on that note, I really must get back to tackling the Editorial Email of Doom. Talk about  a long way to go...

*rolls up sleeves*
*dives into revision*


  1. Thank you!
    That was super duper inspiring!
    I haven't gotten so far as looking back, I am more in the denial first stage...
    Have a brill' day!

  2. What an amazing story. :) Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. Are you going to change the title of you blog now that you're not a wannabe anymore? Just askin'. ;)

  4. Thank you for such an inspiring post. You are right --you must look back to see how far you have come.
    I'm starting to have my doubts again but now that I look back I can't quit. I'm in too deep.
    Thanks and good luck!

  5. Shannon - Thanks so much for sharing this -- I'm [almost] ready to start querying and getting nervous!

  6. I needed that reminder today. Thanks.

  7. Thanks for the reminder, Shannon. It amazes me that I can watch my children grow, see every new facade of their being, but when I look into the mirror I can't see any of mine. All it takes is a gentle nudge from a friend. I started my journey two years ago, but got serious about six months ago. I am eternally grateful to the writers I've met and those who choose to swap ideas and advice like you.

  8. Wow, what a great post. Congrats on your success so far... very inspirational! One year and 4 days ago, I was working on my first draft... today - still working on that same first draft. I think I need to step it up a notch and this post was exactly what I needed to read today!!

  9. Awwwww! Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Shannon. I swear I am sitting here, typing, with tears in my eyes - happy tears for you. :-)

  10. One year ago, I started my very first first draft. Now, I'm getting ready to query. Wow! It's amazing what a year will do.

  11. I love your story! It's perfect and definitely inspiring. Now back to those revisions!

  12. Looking back a year sorta makes me want to cry... I was querying then with no luck... I'm querying now with no luck. Drafts piling even higher up around me. *sigh*

  13. You've got a super agent for a reason! Good luck with revisions, I feel your pain.

  14. what a great and uplifting post. Thanks for sharing.
    (and a year ago today, i wan't anywhere near where i am now)

  15. Awesome post. This time last year I was sure I was never going to finish another book. And, um, I did. You know how the rest goes, but you're so right.
    And just so you know, *I'm* not surprised by how far you've come. Can't wait to see you go even further!

  16. A year ago today, I had stopped writing for fun.

    Now I have a book.

    OK, it's not done, but it's a book, and it will be amazing one day. (Even if it's kind of a mess right now.)

    Thank you so much for this! You will be part of some awesome acronymed/nicknamed Debut Authors' Group before you know it!

  17. Nice post!

    And wow, two weeks? That must be a heck of a story you've got on your hands!

  18. I looked back. There's a trail of snail sludge about an inch long. I don't think that's a good sign.

    Congrats to you though. SO SO happy for you. And what a fun pic of some great authors :)

  19. Thank you so much, Shannon! A lot has happened in the last year. And it's been so much fun to read about your journey since I found your blog last fall. Good luck with those revisions!

  20. Great post, Shannon. I'm so proud of you - look at all you've accomplished in just a year! WOW!! I didn't get to the agent point for like 5 years. Your writing must be amazing. Keep going - it's going to happen for you, I just know it!!

  21. Wow, what an inspiration! I promise I'll follow your advice and look back, but I can't promise my progress will be anywhere near as awesome as yours. :)

  22. I had been writing my book for eight months (researching as I went along) and then everyone in my crit group decided to enter a contest. We each went back and read our first 24 pages and realized how far we had come (because they were awful). Hopefully we'll all be where you are someday. Wonderful column. Congrats.

  23. What an inspiration! That's a great picture, and I'm so glad you got the boost you needed to move forward with your writing.

    You are the queen for today.

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  25. What a wonderful post! Inspirational--one to keep me tapping out the words as I fast approach a year of writing my novel. I remember when Janette Rallison first came to our writer's group without a published work to her name. She rolled up her sleeves and got to work, and now I've lost track of how many books she has dangling under her belt. -Sigh- Congratulations on your success. I'm determined to do it too--one challenging word at a time.


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