6.15.2011

SHOOTING A STAR STRAIGHT THROUGH THE HEART

Anonymous asked...
I have completed my first novel and now I am on the search for an agent. I've been navigating the pages of AW and AAR so I've learned a lot but I was hoping that I could just get some, general, advice. I'm querying far and wide, but deep down inside, I am hoping that I land with Writers House. I've been interested in them for a while along with Prospect Agency. Being that I am a newbie I just wanted to know if the light at the end of the tunnel is actually a thing to shoot for or am I shooting too high? 

being a newbie does not mean you don't deserve the best. it doesn't mean that you can't aim for the highest, the brightest, the gold star. in fact, it means nothing at all. your job as an aspiring writer is to write the best manuscript you can, to do the best research you're capable of, and to compose the most compelling query letter possible. but sometimes we have to get out of our own way -- we have to step back before we sabotage ourselves.

i know a lot of you are new to this blog. many of you learned about my book and my twitter and my caffeine-addiction only within the past few months. (hello! welcome! you look mighty fetching today!) and as a result, there are many of you who aren't familiar with my entire publishing process. i won't bore you with all the details, but i do want to clarify a few things that have come up more than once: i am by no stretch of the imagination some kind of overnight success.

i know. right? it feels funny even typing that. but i've had people say this to me, and it made me almost jump out of my own skin in surprise. it's so flattering! but my oh my, not true at all.

i wrote 5 manuscripts before i wrote SHATTER ME. and they didn't work out. i had an agent before i signed with Jodi, and that didn't work out either. my work was going in a different direction and i had to make a decision about my career. i had to seriously sit and think about where i thought my career was headed vs. where i wanted it to go. it was excruciating. it was terrifying. really, truly, terrifying. i basically walked away from a sure thing with nothing but a hope and a prayer and a manuscript my gut was telling me was the strongest thing i'd ever written. and though none of this is a secret, i rarely talk about it, but that's only to respect the privacy of all parties involved. and i'm only mentioning it now because i want you to know that this journey is hard. it's grueling. and at every level we're brand new and have no clue what the hell is going on. i'm a newbie every day. every single day i'm learning new things about this industry even though i read just about everything i can get my hands on. it's endless. it's enormous. 

it can be daunting.

but you have to trust yourself. believe in yourself. believe that you are capable of greatness and don't be afraid to go after it.

i say this all the time, but it never stops being true: the trick is in never giving up. the test is in the all day every day every single day struggle. the further you go, the harder it gets. the rejections never stop. the ache and worry sometimes seems to double. but your accomplishments are paramount. they will overshadow everything else. the joy and beauty and wonder of being a part of such an incredible journey makes it all worth it.

my point is this: you can't be scared now. not now. if you're already doubting your worth in simply seeking a literary agent, you're selling yourself too short, too soon. you have to be your biggest cheerleader. you have to look in the mirror every day and know, without a doubt, that you are incredible. that you can take letters and string them together to spin tales of glory and gore and chaos and love. disaster. hope. beauty and passion. 

this is who you are. it's who we are. it's what we do. we craft characters from spindly sentences and take months, years, millions of hours to carve the perfect smile onto an imaginary face. we lose sleep and stay awake long after the world is tucked into bed just to place a beating heart into a body formed entirely by the movement of our fingers on a keyboard. we breathe life into worlds no one has ever visited. we imagine more, so much more, always more. we believe in the impossible.

you, my friend, are an inventor. a pioneer. a champion of the written word.
you deserve the best of everything.

and i hope you know that. 

<3

27 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

What a thoughtful post. I agree that things are tough enough without us making it tougher by doubting ourselves. Sometimes we can't help it though, and that's where words like this help.

Sarah Nicolas said...

<3 <3 <3

Sometimes I have to remind myself: If I don't believe in myself, how can I expect anyone else to?

April said...

I want to thank you for reminding us that you were not, though it may seem like you were, an overnight success. It's so helpful to see writers who have become authors...and to hear about their long journey to get there. It gets so frustrating...querying and receiving "Dear Author" rejections, writing and writing and revising and writing and revising...so far I have only 2 manuscripts I've queried and many partially finished manuscripts. I'm working on another I love. I know I'm good. I am a good writer. Sometimes, I surprise myself with good lines...and other times I surprise myself with truly awful lines. But overall, I know I can do this. Thank you for that reminder!

linda said...

You are amazing. Heartfelt thanks for this post.

Heather Kelly said...

"the trick is to never give up". For the love of Pete, how many times do I need to heed this advice? Thanks, as always, for the pick-me-up!

taniadakka said...

Such an inspiring post. Thanks so much that we are our own cheerleaders. Wishing you much success with your book!

Josin L. McQuein said...

Very well said, Teherah (My overly-anagram sensitive brain is STILL wanting to rearrange your name into Heather. :/ )

Something else worth noting is the danger of getting locked into "dream agent" syndrome, where you decide before you've done any subbing that XXX is the "best" for you.

You don't know that. You can't know that Agent X or Agency X is "perfect" for you. You're assuming they are, the same way a teenage girl assumes hot boy-star X is "perfect" boyfriend material when they've never spoken.

The "perfect" agent will be the one who loves your work as much as you do and will knock herself out to make it shine for the right editors.

Anna said...

Your posts are like a giant hug from my best friend. Thank you once again!

Ava Jae said...

This was such a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing this with us--truly inspirational.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

I do deserve the best of everything!

Hopefully something with caffeine will arrive soon. Sort of like a down payment.

Em-Musing said...

As writers we'll always have the
:o and the :( ...till finally one day we get the :) Great words of encouragement.

Aaronni said...

Thank you so much for this! I appreciate it and I'm forever grateful for your kind words! I'm actually shocked because I started a new manuscript (I also thought my old one was gold but I've put it away from another day) and it's actually moving very smoothly! Thank you so much again!

Taryn Tyler said...

That was beautiful. Now I want to send out more queries. :D

Brendan Gannon said...

Wow! I'm not all that new to your blog but I had no idea you'd turned out all that work and parted ways with a previous agent before SHATTER ME. It's reassuring to get some more perspective.

BP said...

*melts into puddle of inspired goo* :D Thanks for the pep talk! Full of awesomeness, as always.

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

This could not have been more timely for me. Thank you.

Christine Fonseca said...

Freakin' Brilliant. THAT IS ALL!!!

Marsha Sigman said...

I want to fold you up and carry you around in my pocket all day. But not in a creepy way.lol

I creeped myself out.
Awesome post as always. We have to keep reaching and be our own rainbow.

ok, that I totally stole from Superstar.

Krispy said...

Your posts are better than double rainbows because you know, I actually know what they mean! :) Thanks!

Leslie Rose said...

I needed to hear these words today. Thank you. Are you on my porch listening to my insecure rantings?

Claire Dawn said...

Harry Potter and Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone was J.K. Rowling's first book. Thank God she aimed high, right?

sally apokedak said...

Wonderful, wonderful words. As usual.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Tahereh, this post is wonderful. You are someone who can craft a world with your words, do you know that?

And thank you for this encouragement.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

... Wow.


You've stunned me with your beautiful words. I'm just ... Wow.

Matthew MacNish said...

Hi Tahereh.

I know it's been a long time, but I still heart you. I've just been busy.

But you know what's nice? Coming back to your blog after a long time away, and finding that's it's still just as funny, inspiring, and honest as it always was.

You're the best. I'm so happy for you and your success.

Dan Blank said...

Wow - such an honest and personal post. Thank you!

Akila said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Querying is sucking the feeble light of reassurance from my heart and I need to read words like this every single day. Yes, I believe in the impossible but I wonder if the impossible is merely a facade behind which insanity lies.

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