An Encouraging Rejection

I have discussed previously how as writers we are often our own worst critics. There is a very real insecurity where our work is concerned, yet at the same time we obviously believe that our story is worth telling or we wouldn’t have written it. We are overly confident in the fact that we think our voice is special or should be heard, but there is always that voice saying, “Nope, nobody cares! Nobody wants to hear your story! Your writing is terrible and not special at all!”

At least, that is the case for me personally. Of course it won’t be the same for everyone, but I’ve heard an alarming number of other writers express the same thing.

Since I started sending out query letters to agents, my confidence has definitely taken some hits. It has been something of an uphill battle to keep believing in my own future success. I frequently remind myself that so many amazing writers were rejected dozens of times before finally getting that, “yes.” J.K. Rowling in particular was rejected something like 75 times, and she ended up writing one of the most successful, well-received book series ever!

Overall though, the rejection letters I have received have honestly been so polite and diplomatic that they haven’t been too difficult to swallow. Last week I received probably the most uplifting one yet. The agent stated, “I found your story to be very strong, and it drew me in right away. You have talent, but unfortunately, I didn’t fall completely in love with it. […] I do want you to know that it was very hard for me to pass on this project, and I’m certain that if it hasn’t already found a home, it will soon.”

How can I be that upset about such a “rejection”? 🙂 Of course I don’t require validation from others where my writing is concerned–even without it I would continue to write, because it is what I love to do and it fulfills my soul in a very unique way–but god it still feels great to read those words!


Book Hoarding

I recently traveled to New York (you can read about it here if you’d like!) and have to say that I’m glad to be settled back at home. It always takes me a few days to get reacquainted with my routine when I return from traveling. For some reason it leaves me a bit discombobulated. 🙂

Yesterday I read an article about how to weed through an overflowing book collection, and I’m thinking I may need to utilize the tips in the article soon. My book collection is constantly growing, and I do my best to donate old books that I either have never read or don’t really want to read again. Yet still, it grows. And I have boxes in my storage unit full of books as well. Oh, and I’m fairly certain my mother has boxes of my childhood books at my parents’ house in Michigan, too. Gah!

I’m pretty good about getting rid of things I no longer use. Particularly over the last couple of years. I would love to be more minimalistic not only for space saving reasons, but just to lessen my attachment to material objects.

I’ve started using up lotions and hair products before buying more (my girl Jenna Marbles pointed out the goo-hoarding that many women succumb to!). That has been going pretty well. But I still manage to accumulate more via gifts, etc.

Probably every 3-6 months I’ll do a quick run-through of my closet to see if there is anything I haven’t worn that I don’t anticipate wearing again soon. I use the hanger direction method–when I buy a new item I hang the hanger facing the opposite direction from the rest. Once I wear it, I flip it around. So anything that is still flipped the opposite way after 6 months to a year (seasonal items taken into account) gets donated. Unless it’s a special occasion item!

But this is incredibly difficult for me where books are concerned. If it’s something I’ve had for nearly a year or more than a year and I haven’t read it and find that I’m not terribly interested in reading it, I can easily donate it. But nearly every book I actually read, I want to keep! Then I have my ever-growing list of favorites. I feel a profound attachment to books that I can’t quite put into words. I imagine any other bibliophile out there understands!

Characters Telling The Story (& a Short Excerpt)

I mentioned previously that I’m currently reading “Bird by Bird”, and the section I recently read was regarding letting your story kind of fall into place, rather than pre-planing the entire thing. The author was driving home the point that this is the most organic way to write a story, the way that will result in the most compelling writing and interesting characters.

Happily enough, that is exactly how my book unfolded. I began with the first sentence, not having ANY idea of what it meant or where it would go. But as soon as I started writing everything just fell into place. I could see my main character–her house, her family, and the street she lived on. I listened and she told me her story, bit by bit. 🙂 I legitimately didn’t know where it was going to end up until I was a solid 3/4 of the way through it.

When that happens, it feels like magic. I’ve written plenty of other stories and started other books that I gave up on after 10 pages. In those cases I was most likely trying to force the story, versus letting it just flow from my pen or keyboard. But this completed (save for some revisions I’m still working on!) book feels so special and personal to me, because I was able to get into that zone. I was able to listen to the characters and let them push the story along. I was able to get to the point where I write something and when re-reading think to myself, “No, she wouldn’t say it like that.” Or, “He wouldn’t react that way. It’s not his personality.”

It has been awhile since I put in an excerpt from said book, so I’ll put a short one in this post. This is the scene where the MC (Thana) meets Phoebe–her perky, happy coworker who ends up knowing far more than she lets on…

That day I had to work after school. Things were going well at the library. The peace and quiet was good for me. Nobody there knew that people were dropping around me like flies. Patrons came and went, smiling politely and occasionally making small talk. Nobody bothered me with questions or looked at me with dread. That day I came in to find a tiny blonde girl waiting at the punch-in clock, positively beaming at me.

“Hi! My name is Phoebe. Kristen hired me yesterday and told me to be here today to train! You must be Thana.”

“Uh, yeah. Kristen didn’t say anything to me about this…” Not that I was surprised. Kristen often left me with added responsibilities when she didn’t feel like handling her managerial position.

“She left a note by your desk, I think. That’s what she said she would do, anyway. My my, your eyes are certainly green, aren’t they? Quite striking and most interesting.” She smiled at me like she knew a secret.

“Oh, yeah, thank you.” I mumbled, feeling off-kilter from her whole demeanor. Her teeth still beamed at me perfectly. Her citrus yellow sun dress fit her torso like a glove, showing off her petite curvature; hugging her slender waist, falling effortlessly over her shapely hips to a flowing, girlish skirt. Her white, strappy shoes looked like they had a three-inch heel, and circled around her ankle daintily where the buckle shined nearly as much as she did.

Suddenly I felt quite frumpy in my slightly baggy, comfy jeans and plain grey crew-neck tee.

The note from Kristen was just where Phoebe said it would be. Thana—train the new girl. Thanks. –Kristen. Very helpful indeed.

Writing Tip: Get An Awesome Support System

I’m so grateful to have some pretty awesome people in my life who show me immense support. A lot of people (friends, acquaintances, etc.) don’t know that I have written a book and am working on getting it all revised and getting an agent. As soon as they find out they are SO kind and uplifting!

From a very young age I was fortunate to have people in my life who supported my little-kid dream of being an author some day. Of course my parents were always supportive, and I had numerous elementary school teachers who pushed me to write and encouraged me with their compliments and feedback. I think pretty much every year I had a teacher who would really show an interest and encourage me to continue writing and working toward my goal. So many kids don’t have that, so I’m INCREDIBLY thankful to have been surrounded by such awesome people.

Recently a friend who found out, through casual conversation, that I wrote a book expressed a genuine desire to read what I currently have, and from her talking about it I’ve had other people–close friends, old college classmates–pipe up and request to read it as well. It’s just so touching to me! Even if they don’t love it, the fact that they are interested in it enough to at least think it could be good just blows me away. 🙂

I suppose it’s part of being a writer; this desire to tell the world a story, while simultaneously worrying that nobody will want to read our story. I recently saw an online article talking about how Ernest Hemingway wrote in journals and personal letters about his own insecurities and doubts regarding his writing. Ernest Hemingway!

I still haven’t reached my goal–no agent as of yet, no successfully published book–but I haven’t stopped working toward it, nor will I. Having so much support around me certainly makes the long, difficult, tiresome journey a bit easier. I would say to anyone with a dream of writing, to not be afraid to share it with others. You’ll be surprised with how much other people believe in you!

An Unfortunate Incident Involving Handcuffs

I’m such a nerd sometimes. 🙂

I genuinely love learning something new about grammar/punctuation. When there is a particular concept that I’ve always just not quite understood the rules of, and then it suddenly clicks after reading up on it some more… that’s such a satisfying feeling!

My “Woe is I” book is one of my favorites. Very helpful and very straight-forward with the explanations. I’ve used it for those times when someone asks me a grammar question that I know the answer to, but I just can’t quite explain it myself.

I think I’ve talked about this before, but I feel that the education system fails us in this regard–I never fully learned the rules for grammar and punctuation in school. I simply learned what was correct via osmosis from reading so much! But this means I rarely know why something is correct, I just know that it is. Perhaps I just learn better via examples or from “doing.” Someone just telling me, “This is right. This is wrong,” over and over just doesn’t seem to do the trick!

I digress!

So I’ve been severely slacking with the daily writing for the October Writing Challenge. But last night I was reading from “Bird by Bird” (which I’m very much enjoying so far, thanks to my wonderfully sweet, thoughtful cousin/best friend who purchased it for me!) and I was suddenly inspired to write about a fairly hilarious memory that popped into my head. …..

Once upon a time, I locked a handcuff around a cat’s neck. My own cat, actually. This was not done when I was a small, silly child. No, I was 16 years old, a junior in high school. What, pray tell, would prompt me to do this? I can’t quite recall now, but I imagine boredom had a lot to do with it.

It is important to note that when I slid the handcuff around said cat’s neck, I was under the impression that the key to kitty’s freedom was nearby in my brother’s room.

For most of our childhood these handcuffs hung around our house. Where they came from, I have no idea. We played cops and robbers with them, or tried locking each other to furniture before running away with the key to torment one another, but either my dad or my brother always had the key. For years and years, we could easily unlock anyone from the handcuffs.

This particular evening, I was sitting in my room, probably watching a movie or something along those lines. Really, I can’t quite recall what I was doing, but it’s obvious I was bored. I certainly didn’t want to hurt Kobe (the featured, unfortunate critter), I imagine I was just curious about how he would react. So I closed the handcuff around his neck, quite loosely, and he didn’t really seem to mind his new neckwear. He was a bit confused, and I’m sure annoyed with my antics, but he mostly just sat there and kind of wiggled his little fuzzy, grey bobtail a bit. I went across the narrow hallway to my brother’s room to retrieve the key.

“Hey where are the handcuff keys?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean? Weren’t they on your dresser?”

“Awhile ago. I think I lost them.”

“Are you serious?! I put the handcuffs on Kobe!”

“What?!” He cracked up. “Why?!”

“I don’t know, I was just dinkin’ around! Crap! Maybe Dad has them.”

We spent the next 10-15 minutes searching for the keys in any spot we could think of. No luck. Mom and Dad weren’t home at the time, but we called Dad to see if he knew where the keys were. He did not.

I can’t quite recall the following chain of events, but I know that my cousin, Daniel, ended up driving out to our house to pick me and the entrapped cat back to his house, to see if my Uncle Jeff could pick the lock somehow. Sitting in his car, holding Kobe in my lap, petting him and holding the handcuffs so they didn’t weigh down his neck, I could barely believe the predicament I’d gotten myself into. Daniel couldn’t stop laughing at me.

Uncle Jeff wasn’t able to pick the lock, and much laughter ensued. He was friends with one of the police officers in town, so he suggested I call over there to see if he was home and if he could help. If you’ve ever had to explain to a complete stranger the idiotic thing you did which defies all logic, you will understand how completely mortified I was in that moment, calling a police officer to see if he was at home so he could try to get a pair of handcuffs off my cat.

He was home, so Daniel and I went to his home where he and his family were just lounging around, enjoying a nice evening together. I’m sure they never could have guessed how their evening would end up. I sat on his couch while he sequestered his dogs to another room, while Kobe meowed and fidgeted, clearly in a tizzy about all of the activity he was experiencing.

Unfortunately, the police officer didn’t have any luck either. No key he had would fit, and he wasn’t sure what to do. Back to Uncle Jeff we went. I was beginning to think we would just have to use some kind of tool to break the metal ring off and hoping that my dad had something that would work and that my cat wouldn’t completely freak out.

Finally, Uncle Jeff was able to pick the lock. I can’t recall what tool he used, but I know that Kobe was finally free. I also knew I would never live down the moment of pure idiocy.

Sometimes years go by without this memory popping into my consciousness. Then something will trigger it and I will bust out laughing to myself all over again thinking, “I freaking handcuffed my cat.”

Lesson learned: do not play with handcuffs unless the key is in viewing range.


I’m searching for writing workshops I can attend (that don’t cost an arm & a leg) that are local, and I haven’t been having any luck!

For some reason I’m really craving a writing workshop. Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic for my college classes, or the summer workshops I would attend in middle and high school. School, but only involving writing. I could do that all day!

However, earlier last week I came across a few helpful websites!

I’m pretty interested in a few of them–hoping I’ll be able to attend! I don’t mind conferences, but I’d really like a genuine workshop more than anything. Something that feels like I’m back in the classroom.

In other news, I have been severely slacking in the October Writing Challenge…! I’ll forget for a couple days then catch up a little, then forget again. I just feel like I need a “boost” with my writing lately. Not feeling motivated. Last night I randomly got inspired/motivated to work on my book some more, so that was good. I’ve decided to change quite a few things. There are more elements of mythology I want to add, after reading up on it more. It’s funny how these mythological elements keep popping up, matching what I already have in the story. I love it!

October Writing Challenge

My friend Mary is doing an October Writing Challenge and I have decided to join in! To at least attempt it; hence the “challenge” aspect. 🙂

Every day of the month there is a word prompt, and you just write whatever comes to mind. No word limits/goals.

I try to use my Brainsparker app as much as possible to give me writing prompts, but I admit that I slack off and will sometimes go two weeks without sitting down to write something new. Yikes! I think it will be nice to have someone else to more or less hold me accountable–that added pressure of someone else knowing what goal you’re working toward and not wanting to be a complete failure. 🙂

Perhaps I will post some excerpts here, if they’re up to snuff.

I’ve never done NaNoWriMo which is coming up… the one year I started to attempt it, I started stressing myself out over it. Sometimes I think I’m allergic to stress because I essentially cringe away from it and avoid it at all costs. So, that was the end of NaNoWriMo for me. Also, I was attempting to finish my book, and I found it too distracting and wasn’t spending any time working on my already established book. Maybe I could try it this year, though. I do need to get the second book going… hmm… !

Do writing challenges work for you?!