Hey everyone. No, this is not a Halloween post. I know, I know, who does a post on Halloween and doesn’t even make it related to the holiday? (Is Halloween considered a holiday? ‘Cause that would be kind of weird. *Googling it* Well, Google says it is, but I don’t know. If schools don’t close and people don’t get off of work, can it really be a holiday?)
Okay, I’m back, guys, everything is good. No need to worry.
(Wait, I continued scrolling on the Google search page! timeanddate.com (didn’t know that site existed) says it is NOT an official holiday. I knew it!)
Glad we got that straightened out.
Anyway, I will have one thing Halloween related. And that’s the quote I’m starting with. It comes from Disney’s 2003 Haunted Mansion movie. Though my family isn’t big into Halloween, we’ve always watched this movie every year. Except this year we didn’t get to it. Probably due to the fact last week I started the Mandalorian series. (Not season two. Yes, I know, why haven’t I gotten to the first season before now. *shrugs* NO spoilers in the comments. I’ve only seen like five episodes at the point I’m writing this. I’m all for talking about it after I’ve finished the first season.) Anyway, I really liked this quote said in the movie. (Yeah, I have no idea what the character’s name is, so that’s what I’m going for.) The quote is below.
"You try, you fail, you try, you fail. But the only real failure comes when you stop trying."
"What do you want me to do."
So, that is how I’m starting the post off. This will be a long post. Today, I wanted to share a bit of my journey as a writer and to give you encouragement to “try again and pick up your pen.” Because let me tell you, I get what it’s like to face rejection, I understand the feeling that I’m never going to get this book finished, much less published. I understand all of this. You know why? Because I have been there.
*ha, I LOVE doing that*
Moving on, I started writing my first book waaaaaaaaay back in the day. (Like when I was nine???? Not as long as I thought.) I honestly don’t remember, I just know I was young. And then like a week after I wrote the first thing I dropped it. Yep, that’s my tragic beginning. (Just kidding.) Around this time I was a reluctant reader. I still read because my mom is super big into reading and it was considered a bad word at my house if you said you didn’t like to read. (Which is why I only said it when she wasn’t around.) I found books here and there that I liked okay, but I had a list of other things I’d rather do than read…much less write. (I’m gonna pause, while you let the shock pass.)
*wondering if I can do a post of nothing but waiting*
*though, that’d be kind of weird*
Okay, I think we’re all good. So, I started writing another story back in middle school and made it about fifty pages in before I stopped it. This whole writing thing wasn’t working out for me. And then in March 2017, I did it. I completed my first ever novel………in like a month. Literally, I wrote it IN A MONTH. Imagine how awful it was.
Opening paragraph: It was a sad and upsetting day. I’m kidding! It was one of the best days ever! The day I figured out the high school I was going to, Spy Academy! As soon as I got home from dance practice with my best friend, Nicholle, I checked the mail and there was a letter addressed to me. It said in big, bold letters: For Your Eyes Only.
First, it used way too many exclamation marks. Past Me, must’ve had some thing for exclamation marks. (Although, if any of you pay attention to my comments/replies you’ll noticed that the exclamation mark thing kind of stuck. Though, I DON’T overuse it in writing, I promise.) I mean this story had a LOT of mistakes. But you know what, that’s okay. There’s a reason I showed you this writing. I wanted you to see that we all start in these places. Though, most of you were probably at that point at much younger ages, but I haven’t been writing very long. (Spy Academy: The Truth Uncovered was the title, for all you who wanted to know.) Spy Academy laid the first foundations I would soon build my writing upon.
In March of 2018, I found it! (What is it with me and March?) The book that would grow in me a love of reading like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter. (I had a feeling most of you were going to think it was The False Prince, but that didn’t come until 2019.) I read this book in three days, because as soon as the first chapter was finished, there was no turning back. It showed me a lot of the things I craved for in a story, though I didn’t know it at the time.
Around this time I was working on my next novel first called Mystery at Disney Parks, but then changed to A Spy’s Life.
(To the left is my mock cover.) I completed the first draft in the summer of 2019 and by the end of August, in that year, I already had the second draft completed, too. My third draft would be the first book I ever typed on the computer. It was completed in January of 2020. (Also known as the year we all try to forget.) And then I went through a round of edits that was completed by March (again with the Marches).
Opening section: Danger.
That was what everyone said Skyler was going to get herself into. They were just closer to the truth than she would’ve liked to admit.
Agent Skyler Paxton has foiled plans of Organization 2389.
Skyler could almost remember the moment it all happened. More clearly than what The Spies of Our Time could describe in their renowned newspaper. It was a case she was sure to never forget, and that was saying something. The boy dominating the front page of the paper was far from looking like Skyler, and she was certain he was nowhere close to being the highly-trained spy she was. In fact, she didn’t really believe he was a spy for the National Organization of Undercover Espionage. He probably didn’t even know such an organization existed.
This was the manuscript I began submitting to literary agents. Now most people you meet will tell you, that, if you’re a teen you’re too young to be traditionally published. One time I was reading a YA author’s page and in her FAQ there was a question about advice to teen authors seeking publication. And her advice was to wait and not pursue publication until you’re older. On another author’s page, he had a post about things all teen writers should know. I clicked the post, hoping to gather some more information to help benefit me. And the first tip I meet is that all teen writers should know their writing stinks. These were negative thoughts piling around in my brain. They were also one of the reasons behind starting this website. I wanted to be able to encourage other teen writers to keep going. Because, guess what, the world is going to say you can’t do it. They’ll tell you to wait and that you can’t write something worth publishing at a young age. They will. But I don’t believe a word of it.
When I first started submitting A Spy’s Life, I had hopped it would work. I got my first rejection in May. And it hurt. Like REALLY hurt. But it was way more bearable than when I got my rejection from an agent I REALLY REALLY wanted to represent me. And I’ll admit through all of that, I often thought why I was doing this. It would’ve been so easy to walk away. I WANTED to walk away. And I know everyone says you have to be rejected first and in time it can work. There are many stories of authors who faced rejection for years before selling a manuscript. But no one wants that to be their story.
I felt like every rejection was a valid reason why I wasn’t a good writer and why I couldn’t make it. My true motivation to keep submitting was God. If He willed it, I knew a path would be made. That He would make it happen. But months after I started submitting, it felt like He was shutting all the doors. I remember this feeling of giving up. The last few weeks before I stopped submitting A Spy’s Life, I would be like I’m gonna send it, but I’m not going to get an acceptance. The only reason I kept trying was that shimmer of hope, that maybe, just maybe, this time it would work. I soooooo badly wanted it to work, to show everyone that teen writers can be published. That we can write. That we can do this.
And then I had to ask, can we? Is it really possible? Can I?
It was the last week in July. I received an email from an agent. And most agents don’t usually give feedback, and that’s okay. But she did. And it listed a bunch of things wrong in the first five pages I sent. It really hurt. Like, I’m gonna be honest, it hurt a lot. And used to, I would be afraid to admit that my rejection hurt, because I didn’t want anyone to think I couldn’t handle it. Now, I realize that it’s okay for rejection to hurt. It’s okay to feel sad and down. That doesn’t make you weak. In fact, there’s great courage in admitting when something broke you. But what you do afterwards is what really matters. So, I thought about it the entire day. I was hanging out with one of my sisters that day and had a blast, but the entire time the words in the rejection wasn’t far from my mind. They rang in any moment when there was a break, and still pounded when I was supposed to be having fun. I remembered that day we were watching the 2019 Disney Aladdin movie. I remember sitting there, going back to the rejection email. Turning over its meaning in my mind.
If I was to continue with A Spy’s Life, then I had MAJOR changes to make. I didn’t want to go through another draft. So, a new book idea I had earlier in the year was turning around in my mind. A contemporary retelling of “Aladdin.” On one hand, I didn’t want to drop my spy novel. But there was also this sense of excitement. It felt good to start over again. Crazy, right?
That night, July 30, 2020. My sister sat down and looked at the website I was working on with Lacey and Alana. And we published it! That night I officially became a blogger. And Teen Writers’ Nook officially went live.
The next day, I was out with my mom. And I asked her to get me a notebook, like one of them five subject notebooks. Oh, yeah, I was going to need that. I sat down and penned the opening line. And there was something exciting about this new story with genies and magic and secrets and all that stuff. Since then I’ve been working hard on it. And now, I’m almost ready to submit to agents again. I’m SUPER nervous, but I’m ready to face the rejections.
The drawing that inspired my character, Genie, in INTO THE LAMP and one that I did.
You see, though the rejections hurt, I have learned more from failing than if I had listened to all those people who said to wait. Looking back, I would’ve still sent A Spy’s Life in because it still built the blocks I needed to get to where I’m at. If I had waited, I’d have never started this website. And I learned so much about writing and submitting from failing. If I waited, my first manuscript would’ve probably still been rejection, but now I’m getting that out of the way at a younger age. And though this next one might end in a rejection, too, I WILL keep writing. That’s why I always end my writing post with keep writing. A reminder to you and me that we cannot give in because it’s not working right now at this moment. Face the rejection, endure the long writing nights, try again, pick up your pen, and keep writing.
And if traditionally publishing is something you want to pursue, if you’ve worked on your novel and feel it is ready, then submit. Don’t let people tell you, you can’t do this. Don’t listen to A WORD OF IT. Because it is a lie. You CAN. I believe in you. Teen Writers’ Nook believes in YOU. Maybe we’re the only people on Earth who does, but isn’t that enough?
You know, I’m proud to say that I’ve been rejected, because it means I’ve tried. So if you have faced rejection in anything (it doesn’t have to be just from literary agents), don’t look at them as scars. Rejection means you had the courage to show someone your writing. And that’s something to be proud of. And if you’re not ready for someone to read your work, that’s OKAY, too. Really, just keep writing until you’re ready. KEEP WRITING!!!!!! I can’t stress this enough. That is how you will learn the most is to Keep Writing!!!! And I wish you the best in your writing and wherever you choose to go next. If your steps falter, may God give you the strength and courage to rise again. Because if you don’t fall, then you will never rise. And if you don’t rise, then you have no story. Keep Writing!
So, have you seen The Mandalorian?
Do you find rejection hard to deal with?
Any thoughts on the subject or words of encouragement to aspiring writers?
Whatever you want to say, feel free to respond in the comments below! I can’t wait to hear from you. KEEP WRITING!!!!!