Monthly Archives: October 2011

What It Takes to Write

Like most other authors out there, many people ask me the same questions again and again – what does it take to be a writer? What does it take to publish a book?

There are as many answers to these questions as there are books in a bookstore. A rich inner life. A rich outer life. A strong desire to spend most of your time alone in a room with only a glowing computer screen for company. Ideas. Talent. The willingness to develop your talent.

While all of these things are important, I think they skate around, but never touch on the most important thing any writer needs:

Courage.

The courage to pick up a pen or open a blank document. The courage to write down their thoughts, where anyone might read them. The courage to keep plodding away at something that they may not always love, because something inside them drives them toward that question mark of a future.

It takes courage to write. It takes courage to do a lot of things – skydive, bungee jump, tell your boss where he can stick it – but this is the kind of quiet courage we all have inside of us no matter how introverted or shy we may be. It takes courage to put pieces of ourselves down onto paper. It takes courage to share that with others.

It takes courage to accept the reality that publishing is a long and difficult road that never ends. It takes courage to wake up every day in pursuit of this, despite not knowing where it will take you.

It takes courage to look at our work with a critical eye and the knowledge that we are not yet the best we can be. That we may never be the best we can be. And it takes courage to strive for that anyway.

It takes courage to walk into that writers group our first day, clutching twelve paperclipped copies of our first chapter. It takes courage to sit there quietly while the other members of our group question our hard work, pointing out flaws we’re not so sure exist.

It takes courage to go home and set those notes aside. It takes courage to come back to them later. It takes courage to study them without dismissing them, and it takes courage to admit that maybe those other members might be right after all.

It takes courage to tear apart our manuscripts in the name of making it better, even when we’re convinced we’ll just make it worse. It takes courage to try new things, new techniques, new plots we never would have thought of if someone else hadn’t pointed it out.

It takes courage to look back over our revised manuscripts and admit that maybe we’re not so bad at this after all.

It takes courage to write a query letter. It takes courage to research agents. It takes courage to read blogs and advice books, and it takes courage to push ourselves to write the best representation of our work that we can create.

It takes courage to type in agent@agency.com. And it takes courage to hit send.

It takes courage to know that failure comes before success, even if we hope we’re the exception to the rule. It takes courage to read that first rejection, that first “pass” or “this wasn’t for me.” And it takes courage to read the fiftieth, too.

It takes courage to learn from the mistakes in our first query letter. It takes courage to acknowledge that it might not be the query letter – it might be the story instead. It takes courage to step back and examine our work with a critical eye all over again. It takes courage to fix it. And it takes a whole lot of courage to admit that maybe we aren’t yet ready for this step after all.

It takes courage to put our beloved manuscript in a box and tuck it away, knowing it will never be read by the masses. It takes courage to stop feeling like a failure. And it takes courage to open up another blank document and write Chapter One.

It takes courage to go through the whole process again, this time without the New Writer smell and all of the optimism it brings with it. It takes courage to finish a second time with that first manuscript looking over your shoulder. It take courage to present this new work to your writing group, knowing they’ll know it means you didn’t make it with the first. It takes courage to accept their criticisms all over again, and it takes courage to accept their praise about how much you’ve improved as well.

It takes courage to send out another batch of queries. It takes courage to open those emails. It takes courage to admit to yourself that maybe there’s a glimmer of hope the first time you get a partial request. And it takes courage to let yourself celebrate when that partial request turns into a full.

It takes courage to face the incredible hurt when that full is rejected. It takes courage to try again. It takes courage to change your manuscript on an agent’s request – on a maybe that may never pan out. And it takes courage to answer that phone call from the 212 area code when you’re in the middle of the busiest hours of your day.

It takes courage not to say yes right away to the agent’s offer of representation. It takes courage to ask questions. It takes courage to hang up the phone. It takes courage to email the other agents who have your partials and fulls, letting them know what’s going on, knowing this might mean even more rejection.

It takes courage decide who’s right for you. It takes courage to sign on the dotted line. It takes courage not to email every single day you’re on submission, and it takes courage to live your life while strangers in a New York City skyscraper decide your fate.

It takes courage to accept an offer of publication – or, if you’re lucky, choose from several. It takes courage to go through the editing process all over again, sometimes for a year or two or three. It takes courage to accept your book isn’t the lead and that it likely won’t become the smash hit you hoped it would be.

It takes courage to market yourself. It takes courage to tell the truth when people ask you what you do for a living, because you’re a writer now, and not everyone understands that writing is a real job, too. It takes courage to keep smiling when you see the doubt in their eyes, because they’re one of those people who don’t get it and likely never will.

It takes courage to walk into a bookstore on your release day and tell the employees you’d like to sign stock. It takes courage to go to book signings, uncertain if anyone will ever show up. It takes courage to look at reviews. It takes courage to stop.

It takes courage to start the process all over again, but instead of having that first manuscript staring over your shoulder, you have an entire audience and the expectations your first book has built. It takes courage to acknowledge your fears. And it takes courage to do it anyway.

Most of all, it takes courage not to give up on yourself no matter what this path throws your way.

Courage, more than anything, is what it takes to be a writer. But the good news is, at least you don’t have to jump out of an airplane to do it.

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Title Time!

After months of keeping my mouth shut about this (not an easy task for me, seriously), I can finally reveal the title of the third Goddess Test novel!

This was kind of a pain in the neck to come up with. I had a working title, but that was almost too spoilery (maybe after the second book’s released, I’ll mention it somewhere), and I came up with close to eighty alternatives. After sending my favorites of those to my editor, she picked the winner, and I’m very happy with it.

Drumroll, please…

The title of the third Goddess Test book will be The Goddess Inheritance.

Like I said, I really like it – it was my favorite of the brainstormed titles, and it definitely fits the story in a way that isn’t just metaphorical. Curious? Sadly you’ll have to wait until late December 2012 to read it (fingers crossed the Mayans were wrong, man, because the third book is on the wrong side of that prediction), but that really isn’t too far away if you think about it.

The funniest thing about this being the title is the acronyms. This will be fun (and a little confusing!). We may just have to stick with TGT3 for a while.

TGT – The Goddess Test (#1)

GI – Goddess Interrupted (#2)

TGI – The Goddess Inheritance (#3)

Either way, what do you think about the title? Excited for the second book? Only about five months to go until the March 27, 2012 release date!

Also, The Goddess Test Fansite (@thegoddesstest on Twitter) will have an exclusive announcement regarding The Goddess Test coming sometime later this week, and trust me, you don’t want to miss it.