Monday, January 9, 2012

Paying It Sideways?

pay it forward.
pay it forward. by buttonheart / Chloe Price on Flickr

You know what's awesome? I'm an unagented, unpublished, unknown writer and yet I have readers. Even a few (dare I say it?) fans. I have people I've never met in real life cheering for me. People who remind me my writing isn't terrible, I'm not delusional and I can do this.

It's been about a year since I started taking my writing seriously. I entered my manuscript in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest on a whim and much to my surprise, I made it through to the quarter finals. Aside from the huge confidence boost, an excerpt from my manuscript was available on Amazon as a Kindle download. At one point, it even made it to #45 in free Kindle downloads. I got some awesome reviews of excerpt and even better, I made some new writing friends.

Writing is often a solitary endeavor. I write alone, cut off from the real world and lost in my own imagination. But when I joined Twitter, threw up a Facebook page and started this blog, I began to realize novels don't happen in vacuums.

After a scathing review from Publishers Weekly (citing my poor proof-reading skills, "shallow characterization" and too many male characters "inexplicably orbiting" around my main character), I dove right into rewrites. And then the magic started to happen. I had people begin to ask for the rest of my manuscript. People wanted to know how the story resolved. I sent it out to a few trusted friends, got good feedback and went back into rewrites.

Over the summer, I reach a new level in readership - I had someone I'd never met ask to read the rest! Leigh Ann gave me my first line edits and really helped whip this thing into shape. Then I met Kaleen and she asked all the right questions about things that didn't make sense. Ladonna found the perfect opening line buried at the end of the manuscript. Megan showed me why & how I needed to fix my final, climactic scene. And Tracy gave me one of the best compliments I've ever received about my writing. Several more have sacrificed time and occasionally sleep or family obligations to read and give me feedback on my manuscript, my pitch (thanks to ChessieLyla, Maggie & Gina), my query and my synopsis (thanks to Jessica, Robin, Cassandra, KaiJani & Juliana). I've posted on AgentQueryConnect and QueryTracker, receving invaluable feedback about how to sell my story in a single page.

There are dozens more who have encouraged me and cheered me on throughout this journey (sorry if I forgot to mention anyone...). What makes that more amazing is that these writers are all in the same place as me. I suppose they could be viewed as competition. But instead, they're my comrades in arms. They are the ones who keep me going after (another) form rejection and the ones who share links for new opportunities to share my work/catch an agent/promote myself.

I am so grateful for the entire writing community that has welcomed me with such open arms. I want to pay it forward, to take what I've been given and pass it along, but really, it's more like paying it sideways. We're on this journey together. Some of us might catch that break we're all hoping for sooner than others, but it will be a shared victory when one of us signs with an agent or gets that book deal we all dream of. Whatever successes I find in my writing career, I hope I never lose (not loose - one of those typos my crit partners & beta readers are ALWAYS finding...) sight of that. I hope I never forget to pay it forwards or backwards or sideways. I love being a part of the writing community and I hope I'll be able to invest back into the lives and careers of my fellow writers now and in the future.

So thank you to everyone who has invested in me and my writing. I only hope I can do the same for each of you some day.


  1. Thanks. You have a lot of talent and we are cheering for you.

  2. This is such a great post, Jenny. I love reading about everybody's experiences.

  3. Awww, thank you for this great post, Jenny (and for mentioning me!). And I noticed from reading your side-bar that you changed the title for GUARDIAN again! I love the new title; it sounds very cool. Sending lots of luck along your way. :)

  4. It is a wonderful community we writers live in!