Elbow Grease and Fairy Tales

I wrote this on August 25 and it's been sitting in my draft folder for the right time to publish. Considering I am still at a loss for blog time while revising my manuscript with the help of a professional editor, the topic is beyond appropriate, especially considering I hired Brooke Warner after I wrote the post, which I just dug up because I don't have time to blog because I'm trying to make my book Not Suck. See? The Universe? It's all tied together, yo.

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I've decided I don't give a shit anymore.

Not about an agent. Not about a book deal. Not about the number of blog hits I get. And not about the fact that my platform is barely big enough to reach the cookies on the top shelf.

I've had one dream since I was 8 years old: to become a published writer with a book of my own. My inspiration was Gordon Korman after my fifth grade class was assigned to read the book that got him a book deal when he was all of about 13.

I know. The pressure was on, yo.  And I had three years to deliver.

To say I had a midlife crisis at the age of 14 is an understatement. I was devastated in only the way a teenager with a broken dream can be. And please, let us not focus on the fact that I couldn't even blame the Man for keeping me down. Gordon Korman got a book deal because his English teacher was blown away by a writing assignment that turned into a manuscript that turned into a career that has spanned decades. I didn't have a book deal before getting my driver's license for the very obvious reason that I hadn't done any work to fucking earn it.

I got over myself for a while and moved on. There was middle school to deal with. And all the hell that comes with it.

And there was high school. That was a nightmare. So busy concentrating on the cliques I didn't qualify for to make many meaningful friendships with those who I could have. I joined student congress, played varsity tennis, was part of the Spanish club, played a few instruments in the concert and marching band, organized class trips to Cedar Pointe in the hopes of earning some cool points with the In Crowd...

And then I found myself holding in the tears when my speech wasn't selected for my classes graduation ceremony. I never wrote for the school paper. I wasn't an enterprising young writer with a check list of publications in which my work had been accepted. I was just a girl who wrote essays and shared them with friends on the phone at night who turned in what I assumed was a given for the commencement ceremony speech.

Are you following along with me, here? I assumed that because my dream was older, my visions of the future grander, and my ego bigger than was good for me, that I didn't need anything more than a bit of patience for the Universe to send a message to the right people about my hidden genius.

Stupid? Yes. And had I outgrown that thinking, it might have been excusable. To my credit, I did...for a little while. I was too busy to writing for the college paper and failing math classes and finally graduating with honors. Then I was too busy getting married and buying a house and working as a city editor for a small town newspaper. I was too busy to do much, really, until I left my job at a respected newspaper for bed rest, have the baby, survive the first two years of her life, lose my father, and move cross country.

That's about the time I decided to take a breath and start a blog to get my name out there for the book idea that had just come to me. Twitter was an obvious choice, and while other writers worked on multiple projects and vented about rejections from literary magazines, I happily wasted away hours online "building my platform"  and yes I totally just did air quotes because I still blindly thought that was all I needed. Surely an agent would stumble across my blog and discover me. Talent like this can't be ignored, right?

Every twitter follower gained was another reason to think I was more of a someone than I had been yesterday. Every blog hit a reason to think things were happening for me. And when I started querying my book, you can bet your ass I assumed I was going to be one of the lucky ones.

Multiple rejections?

My work not actually ready?

My query letter sucking?

Nah...

I was, quite obviously, wrong.

Just like the fourteen-year-old with the midlife crisis, I had no one to blame but myself for my misery. Dreams coming true are not usually the stuff of fairy tales. To happen, they take work on the part of the dreamer.

Do I still wish for a book deal? Sure. But I'm also very aware of the fact that focusing on the goal is not the point of The Writing Dream. The point is actually writing. Everything else is just gravy.