Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Year in Writing--2010

Last year, for my last post of the year, I did this kind of cool (well, I thought it was, anyway), month by month look back on my year in writing to see how far I'd come. And ALL year I've been planning to do the same thing this year. But when I started to write the post I realized something: MANS was it boring. I spent so much time in Revision Hell it started to read like a broken record.

So instead, I'm still calling it my year in writing, but I'm going to focus on a bunch of other things that happened too. You'll thank me later.

Endings and Beginnings
After twelve previous drafts--yes, TWELVE--over the last seven months, I *finally* felt like draft thirteen was ready for me to type the two words I hadn't let myself type before--at least not together. "The End." I *might* have cried a little. And it was just in time because two weeks later I attended my first writer's conference. Not gonna lie, it was 3 of the most stressful days of my life. I didn't know anyone, and I had 5 pitches to agents and some of the other writers I met...well...let's just say they were less than friendly. But I SURVIVED. And walked away with 3 partial requests, a full request, and a conference choice award for my first chapter. Yeah, I was shocked too.

Stalling and then Twitter changes lives
After LOTS of going round and round on who to query and when to query and OMG-I'm-too-scared-to-query, my family, friends, and CPs ganged up on me with an epic Twitter campaign (#hitsend) and shoved me into the querying pool, kicking and screaming the whole way. Within 12 hours I had my first rejection, 2 partial requests and a full request from a partial--oh, and I still had ten chapters to finish line editing before I sent the full. It's amazing my head didn't explode.

After 2 roller coaster weeks of querying, my dream came true, and I got an offer of representation from my #1 Wish-List agent. Yeah, it was totally cool. She was traveling when I accepted her offer, so I had to wait 3 weeks to announce (I was too worried I'd get a "just kidding" email, so I wasn't going public until I had my contract in hand) and when I finally shared the news, the reaction and support was AMAZING. Such a high. I'll never forget it. And then...reality set in, when I got my first Laura Rennert revision letter. It was LONG. And thorough. And full of amazing ideas. And OMG SO SCARY! 

Self Doubt, Drama, and Re-Grouping
I started out the month pretty much paralyzed with fear. Wondering what would happen if I couldn't nail the revision (would I lose my agent and have to flee the country for the shame of it?). Wondering where to even start on her notes. Doubting I was good enough. (Incidentally, this was when the revision-is-stressful diet kicked in). And as if that wasn't fun enough, some things in my personal life became...well, let's just say drama-filled. Not gonna lie, it was a tough month. I took a few weeks off blogging. I lost some weight. But by the end of it I knew who my real friends were, what I needed to do with my draft, and I had finally started tackling the revision.

Full steam ahead
Here's where the writing part becomes repetitive (*coughs* Revision *coughs*). But somewhere in the midst of that, I got an email from a friend saying, "Hey, I want to plan an online writer's conference. You in?" (well, okay, she was more articulate than that, but I'm too lazy to go back and find her actual wording) And I of course said, YES. Even though I had NO idea how in the heck we were going to do that.

Slogging through
WriteOnCon was slowly becoming a REAL THING (hey, it even had a name!) and even though I still didn't really understand how any of it was going to work, we were contacting agents/authors to participate--and they were saying YES! Wheels were in motion. Hundreds and hundreds of emails were being sent and group chats were being held and websites were being built and life was pretty much insane.

The tough month and the sekrit to keeping the joy.
July was an INSANE month. Comic Con. SCBWI LA. WriteOnCon planning. Oh yes, also more revision. And I'll confess, I was getting burned out. BIGTIME. A friend who knew my struggles suggested I start another project to give me a change of pace, and I wanted to laugh. I was SO busy already, when would I have time for that? But when I was out of town with my husband for our anniversary I couldn't sleep (insomnia sucks) so I grabbed my laptop. I'd planned to get some work done, but my heart just wasn't in it. So on a total whim I opened a new, blank document and wrote from this new voice that had been hanging out in my head--a new character with a new story I hadn't planned on telling. And it was a revelation. I only wrote 6 pages but they were the best 6 pages I'd written in a long time--not because they were perfect (if only...), but because they were FUN. My sekrit project was born, and ever since, whenever I need a break or to fall back in love with writing, I spend some time with it. It's like therapy in a draft.

Everything was down to the wire. Faculty were being added. Some were dropping out. Then some who'd dropped out wanted back in. And the emails. Oh, the emails. It's amazing gmail didn't close my accounts. And just when I thought it couldn't get any crazier, it was CONFERENCE TIME. Longest three days EVER. Between Error 403 (I *still* have nightmares about that) and keeping up with the forums and the emails and moderating events and everything else, I pretty much didn't eat or sleep the entire time. But it was SO worth it. Not just because we reached so many more thousands of people than we expected. Not just because Publishers Weekly ran a story on us. But mainly because here was this HUGE thing we'd done that helped a whole lot of people, and it had all come from a few vague ideas and a ton of email. Anything really is possible if you set your mind to it. Who knew?

Back to normal--or not
Just when I thought life would calm down, WriteOnCon came back for more. We got so many emails from people who were sad they'd missed the conference, we decided to hold monthly live events. And whilst we were scrambling to organize those, we found out the only way to avoid another Error 403 was to switch to a different web hosting company--and it was expensive. Cue scrambling to put together an epic fundraiser. Cue hundreds more emails. But that's okay. I happen to love email. And the fundraiser and live events were another huge success.

October, November, December
Group blogs, more of the same, and finally--a routine!
Funny thing about being super insanely busy for an extended period of time: it starts to feel normal. And then it IS normal. I finally figured out a way to organize my time so that I can answer all my emails, organize the live events, revise, work on ze sekrit project when I need to, blog, play on Twitter, and occasionally eat and sleep see my husband. So I figured, why not join a couple of group blogs??? ;) But hey, I'm kind of a pro at juggling now. I don't even really feel it. And hopefully between that and the fact that I am FINALLY getting close with my writing, here's hoping 2011 will be the year I sell my first book. Only time will tell.

*Phew* So there you have it, my year in revising/querying/signing-with-an-agent/blogging/planning-an-online-writer's conference/stressing/not-eating-or-sleeping-enough/surviving-drama and oh yeah, WRITING! Sure, I've had some ups and downs. But I've always moved forward.

And I do want to add one more thing. This year I have made some of the most amazing, supportive writer-friends ever. I seriously don't know how I survived without them, and with their help I know I can handle anything this crazy publishing business throws at me as I continue to chase my dream. Bring it on 2011. I'm ready!


  1. What an amazing year!! I found your blog somewhere in February (I think) and have been cheering you on ever since. 2011 IS the year you'll sell that book. Can't wait to celebrate that with you!!

    Have a wonderful 31st and a Happy, happy New Year!

  2. Wow--that was one seriously awesome and crazy year for you! WriteOnCon completely rocked and I can't tell you how excited we all were for it.

    Here's to hoping for your first sale and another great year of reading and writing!

    Happy New Year!

  3. What a cathartic and ultimately wonderful year you've had!! I'm sorry to read about your problems in April - but yay that you pulled through ok!!!!

    Lots of amazing stuff - Writeoncon was fun!!! Thank you!!

    Good luck with your 2011 writing goals!! I think you have truly emerged stronger!!! Yay for you! Take care

  4. Whoa! That made my head spin! Busy Busy! But in a good way! Congrats on your success this last year. Cheers to even more in 2011!

    Thank you for being so supportive of writers. I think I was about to give up and your kind words helped me keep going! I just signed with an agent and I'm working on revisions now! Although I know there are so many ups and down to this publishing thing--and the downs can show up at any moment--I am excited for the New Year!

    Happy New Year Shannon!

  5. Yeah, wow! What a year! I think my head would've exploded with all that you had to do.

    I wish you the best of luck for the new year!

  6. Whew. I'm exhausted just reading what you did. Awesome is what it is. May 2011 be less hectic but just as fulfilling and amazing.

  7. Yay for productive years! Gosh, makes time fly, doesn't it? Here's to an AWESOME 2011!!

  8. Hey, that certainly wasn't boring. Since I wasn't a follower all during this year, some of this I didn't know, so it was fun to learn the details. (I always love the how-I-got-my-agent stories anyway.) Sounds like you are an incredibly busy chickie! It makes me feel a little concerned for you; be careful with that crazy-busy schedule, okay??

  9. what a fantastic crazy year you had! Lots of ups and downs but you've accomplished so much! Hope 2011 holds more of the same (but less stress, ofcourse:) and a publishing contract to boot! I'm sure it will!

  10. What a wonderful year you had! I'm sure 2011 will be even better, but hopefully less stressful and with more sleep.

  11. I came late to the party, but it's been all kinds of awesome ever since. Thanks for the honesty about your writing life, and for building a sense of writerly community. Oh, and the book reviews, and the giveaways, and the answering of every e-mail. (What is this fabulous routine of yours, BTW? The one that lets you get everything done while the rest of us are thinking about what to eat for breakfast. You need to patent it.)

    Firm believer that 2011 will be your year in publishing! You go, girl!!

  12. Great recap for us newbies. Thanks for sharing it. Wishing you all the best in 2011!

  13. Yup, you were crazy busy--my circuits would've blown for sure--but it sounds like you were built for this. Here's to book deals in 2011!

  14. Wow, I think I would've completely lost it somewhere along the line, so good for you! And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you'll be selling your book in the near future =)

  15. Love, love, love your post, Shannon! I think 2011 will be a fabulous year for you!

  16. That's some year! You certainly did a lot in 2010. Here's to hoping 2011 brings even more good things! :)

  17. 2010 has been amazing if only for the simple fact that I found your blog.

    Aren't I freakin' sweet?lol But I am serious. Thank you for all the support and encouragement that you give every day and all the work you put in to WriteOnCon. You chose to give back when you could have just moved forward and that shows what a great person you are. Happy New Year!!

  18. You have had an amazing year - I'm sure next year will be even more incredible for you! :)

  19. You have worked so hard! I'm so glad that you've seen so much success - hope it gets even better in 2011!! :)

  20. it's been great getting to know you on The Mixed-Up Files :)

    here's hoping 2011 is a great year for both of us!

  21. You forgot to mention that at some point this last year you "met" me. I'm not saying that's MORE important than the other things you mentioned ... just EQUALLY important.

    See ya next week - er, year!

  22. Wow, Shannon. What a year, huh?! It was a roller coaster ride for sure, but look where you are. I'm so excited and honored to have been here with you the whole way. And as for your last paragraph, I could write one a lot like that, and you would be at the top of my list of some of the most amazing, supportive writer-friends ever. Here's to 2011! May it bring great things to both of us! :-)

  23. This is a very nicely organized and color coded post. Do you do this with your revision notes too? I'd laugh, but I'm kind of serious. It does look like you've had one heck of a year and here is to 2011 being even better and colorful!

  24. Congratulations on a whirlwind year, good lady! You've certainly been busy (which I just mistyped as "busty," which would've put a whole new spin on this comment, huh?).

    Here's to a successful 2011 for us all! Whee! Yay! (No more caffeine for you! Come back, one year!)




  25. Wow. That's ana amazing year in review. Toast the end of 2010 and yeah, bring o 2011. It's going to rock.

  26. What a year for you! I'm torn between awe and envy--I have no earthly idea how you managed it all, and at the same time, how amazing, to be involved in WriteOnCon and the group blogs you've joined. If this was 2010, I can only imagine what 2011 will hold for you!

  27. Great post. So much happened. Glad to hear about you starting a new project and that it helped. Because I'm not up to doing another set of revisions before I query and am going to try the exact same thing.

    I love your blog and am so glad we've become friends. It's one of the great things of my 2010 year.

  28. Fantastic year!! What an exciting year for you ;o) So glad we could all be here to experience it with you ;o) I can't wait to hear what happens next. 2011 is going to rock!

    Hope your New Year's was great ;o)

  29. Dude. WriteOnCon was so awesome!

    I'm intrigued by your sekrit project!

  30. Sorry I'm late to this, I've been offline since before Christmas...I got a post up late last night and I'm spending time today trying to catch up...

    Whoa. This is the most organized year-end recap I've seen (I expect nothing less from you)...and I've been around here for most of it, but when I just read it all at once, whew! Damn girl, you had yourself a busy year. Aside from the yucky part in April (which had plenty o' silver linings), 2010 was pretty darn spectacular for you. Accomplishment filled.

    So, please (PLEASE) give me specific details on this sentence:
    'I finally figured out a way to organize my time so that I can answer all my emails, organize the live events, revise, work on ze sekrit project when I need to, blog, play on Twitter, and occasionally eat and sleep see my husband.'
    'Cause I'm drowning. (add time for taking care of a kid and over an acre of gardens and a house, k?) I'll send you crazy Strawberry Shortcake socks (yanno, to go with your Rainbo Brite ensemble) and other prizes, if you send me a how-to-organize-my-time-to-do-it-all-so-I-don't-freak-out-and-my-brains-don't splatter.

    Loved this post.
    I wish you a truly radiant and joy filled 2011. May all your dreams come true.


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