Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things I will never forget...

I remember when I started this blog and it only had eight followers--all of which were family members I'd guilted into clicking the "follow" button.

I remember how it stayed that way for MONTHS.

I remember how it felt when my first non-family follower appeared. And then another. And another.

I remember how often I'd check back, worrying the followers might have disappeared.

I remember how lonely it was before I made other writer friends. How hard it was to stay motivated. How much I wondered if I was fooling myself, chasing an impossible dream.

I remember squealing the first time an author @replied to me on Twitter. Squealing even louder when the first author "followed" me. And literally jumping up and down the first time an author responded to one of my emails.

I remember the first time someone who wasn't a friend or family member read some of my pages and told me I was "the real deal." How much those words meant to me. How much I'd needed to hear them.

I remember how hard it was to find Critique Partners. How scary it was to suggest swapping pages with someone. How long it took me to work up the courage to open their notes. How hard it was to let their constructive criticism make me a better writer. How devastating and discouraging it was, the few times the CP attempt just didn't quite *work out*

I remember how many drafts I threw away before I finally figured out the plot and typed, "the end." And how typing those words was just the beginning of the work.

I remember the way my legs shook as I walked into my first writer's conference all alone and picked up my badge. How I couldn't find anyone to sit with at the mixer, and called my husband near tears, wondering if I should go home early.

I remember how sick I felt when I got the list of agents I'd be pitching to. How I texted/dm-ed my friends in a panic, wondering if I'd be able to do it. How I couldn't eat for the entire conference because of the nerves.

I remember how shocked and overwhelmed I was when the agents requested pages. How I worried I'd misunderstood them. How scared I was to let myself hope it was a good sign.

I remember being so afraid to query that my friends had to bully me on Twitter to #hitsend.

I remember crying myself to sleep a few hours later, after getting my first rejection. Then crying again 2 weeks later, when Laura offered to represent me. Happy tears that time, though. :)

I remember the punched in the gut feeling of reading my first Laura-Revision-Letter. Worrying I wouldn't be good enough to pull it off. Having to force myself to dive in and get started. Having to tear my draft apart in order to make it better. And then having to tear it apart again.

I remember getting an email from a friend asking me if I wanted to try organizing a free online writer's conference, and wondering how the heck something like that would be possible. How I decided to give it a try anyway. How I worried the whole thing would be an epic failure.

I remember dancing around my house the first time an author sent me their ARC. How I obsessed over every word of that review, wanting to do the book justice. How that ARC still has a special spot on my bookshelf. Next to the signed copy I bought for myself.

I remember the first time someone recognized me from my blog at a book event. How strange it felt to have someone know who I was--and to care enough to come over and say hi. How I struggled to find something to say.

I remember all of these things--and so many more--in vivid, precise detail. Every step of my journey. Every high. Every low. Every unexpected curve. All the joy, heartache, and fear that went along with it.

And I'm telling you all of this because sometimes I feel like people see where I'm at now, and don't realize all the scary, stressful, sometimes painful steps I took to reach this point. Or worse, they think I've forgotten.

I haven't forgotten.

I remember every moment of my journey--and honestly? I'm still very much that same girl. I still get excited when a new follower pops up in my sidebar. I still squeal when an author I love @replies me. I still get nervous at conferences, I still get stressed by revision letters, and I still get STUNNED when someone recognizes me from my blog or Twitter or FB and comes up to meet me. And I hope that never changes, regardless of where this path continues to take me.

I am grateful for each and every thing I've accomplished.

But it doesn't change who I am. And I hope it doesn't change the way any of you see me. Because it shouldn't.

I may be a few steps ahead of you. Or maybe I'm a few steps behind. But we're all on the journey together. We're all heading to the same place. And none of us should ever forget that.

So what about you guys? What do you remember about your journey?


  1. awe, thank you for sharing all of this with us Shannon! I think it's important to always hold those small successes close to your heart and never let them go- even when bigger successes come a'knocking or small failures knock you down, hold on tight to who you are and to what you got you here. Great post!

  2. I remember the first time you reached out to me.

    Also, you got your family to follow your blog? Shoot. I wish I could influence my people like that. Maybe I'll make an account for my dog.

  3. Lovely post. This mentality can apply to more than a writing journey as well. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Andddd....this made me cry. In a good way. :)

  5. Great post. It's important to remember where we started and that we're still the same people. Sometimes I still pinch myself that Casey agreed I could be her blog partner or when an author says yes to an interview. So I know what you mean.

  6. Shannon, thanks for the heart-felt post. Inspiring words that I needed to hear! Congrats on your journey, and thanks for all you do to support other writers.

  7. We are people...before we are writers, with all the angst and joys that entails. I am still at the beginning of my journey and creeping forward like a snail....

  8. Good advice Shannon, and it is inspiring to read about the peaks and valleys that your journey has included.

    And, my family members could care less about my blog (none of them are readers)--maybe they are tired of listening to me in real life.

  9. Great post, Shannon!

    I remember getting my first e-mail from you in response to my first comment on your blog. I couldn't believe you had the time to do this!

    I look forward to following many more steps on your journey. It's only going to get even more stellar, I believe.

    (My word verification is "gasmati." Is that what happens when one eats too much Indian rice?)

  10. Great thoughts to keep close to your heart and remembering on occasion to keep us all grounded. Thanks! :O)

  11. It's easy to forget we all start somewhere, I hope I can write an email like this one day ;)

  12. This was such a heart warming post to read :) Thank you for sharing it with us!

  13. Beautiful post! You were one of my first followers and vice versa I think!

  14. I really really really love this post. :) congrats on how far you've come!

  15. I remember that first follower feeling. Right up there with finishing a draft.

    Great post Shannon!

  16. I love this. I'm so glad I found you. And when we finally meet at one of those conferences you'll know it's me.

    By all the fangirl screaming.

  17. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, Shannon :)

  18. I remember sitting down almost fourteen years ago to try this writing thing.

    I remember the daily journey to the mailbox (yes, this was the old days), waiting to hear from editors.

    I remember hundreds of rejections over eleven years.

    I remember stepping away from teaching to write full time without any leads but with a burning desire to make this writing thing work.

    I remember signing with my agent four months later, cleaning up my manuscript and four months later selling it at auction.

    I remember (with deep, deep gratitude) getting blurbed by a woman whose work I've taught and admired for years.

    I remember you never arrive, that every new book is a challenge, that writing can be beautiful and scary, but it's all worth it.


  19. Wow, Shannon thanks for sharing. One of the reason I followed your blog (aside from all the great info) is because you seem so approachable. I can't wait to see where your journey takes you, and I'm glad we all get to be a part of it!

  20. Your whole followers rendition, for one, and the first time I swapped material with a writer I respected and heard, "This was awesome."

    Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Each of those steps you took (and we take) validates us as authentic, true-blue writers. What a feeling. :)

  21. This was awesome. Thanks for sharing. :)

  22. Hey, hey...did you read my mind! I remember a lot of the same things when they happened to me! :) I love this post!

  23. Wow, what an amazing post. Thanks for sharing your writing journey. :)

  24. Thank you for sharing! It really helps to hear doubts from people like you who have accomplished so much. Maybe I can get there, too. :)

  25. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!

  26. Awesome post. I still have a hard time hitting 'send'! :-)

  27. I remember the first rejection letter I got in my inbox, minutes after I had sent the query. And then the feeling of "Ohhhhh..." after I then (post-query!) read about the publication process. And then the rejection letters many months after that, that stung even more and cut even deeper because after all that reading and critique and revision I thought that what I had written was finally GOOD.

    I also remember the first time a published author turned to me and said, "You're a good critiquer." That was amazing and awesome and has buoyed me through some pretty heavy storms on my writing journey.

    Thanks for this post, Shannon.

  28. great post Shannon! And um, I am still living most of those scarier moments! With the doubts and all....

  29. I love this, Shannon. It's so great to know how real you are. :)
    And you're right, it's easy to forget where we've been and how far we've come when things start working out well. I'm glad you haven't. I hope none of us forget our journeys and the awesome support and network of friends we've made along the way. :)

  30. I LOVE this post, Shannon. And I love that t-shirt you wore to the SCBWI pajama party. You do have an amazing agent/friend/mentor in Laura.

  31. This is a beautiful post and is the epitome of why this writer's community is so wonderful. Thank you!

  32. Great list, Shannon, and it goes to show we can DO it at any stage. See?--you did! We may quake at the knees but we can power through and continue on the journey. Glad you kept trying!

  33. I can't wait to see my first book in print in 2012 "Annie's Special Day". I just lost my illo and now have to start on square one. This post hit's me right where I live. I'm still experiencing my firsts. No agent. Just one book and pub.
    Congrats to you and thanks for sharing your journey.

  34. Reading this made me realize how long I've been following your blog. Ninjadillo. The Frankie dares. :o)

    My first follower wasn't a family member, and now she's one of my favorite CPs.

  35. Enjoyed your post. None of my family are followers of my blog. They ocassionally stop by to check it out, but those visits are few and far between and they don't leave comments. I finally quit asking if they were checking it out.

  36. This is so inspiring! *sniffles*


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