This is not my typical post, but there’s a whole side of me you probably don’t know about…
While Jason was gone during this last deployment, I had what I lovingly refer to as “deployment-induced insomnia.” It happens every time he goes. If he’s deployed, I can’t get to sleep unless I’m eyes-crossed exhausted. I’m too busy wondering where he is, if he’s safe, if he’s fed well… the list could consume this blog. During the first two deployments, I spent a lot of time and a lot of money on abebooks.com, buying boxes and boxes of books which I kept under our bed. I would put the boys to bed, pull out a new one, and finish it around 2 am to get up for work at 6.
This deployment I did something a little different. Instead of reading, I started writing.
I finished my first novel a couple of months after he redeployed, thinking that finishing would be the hard part. (Insert hysterical laughter here.)
Trying to get your debut novel published is like standing in a room full of people telling you that your baby is ugly.
My kids are freaking cute, damn it.
In my mind, publishing was simple. You sent in your manuscript, they called you, you published, then did the happy dance at Barnes and Noble. Right? Not quite. Not even close! Yeah, there are these little sweet bites of hell called query letters, where you have all of 300 words to explain who you are, what your entire book is about, and why you rock. Then, if agents like that, they’ll ask you for the manuscript… Crickets. Attempting to attract an agent off of the “slushpile” is akin to knocking on the door of a secret society without the pass phrase. Dropping candies and calling out “here, agent, agent” doesn’t work. I wonder if I tried cake pops…
Bottom line: There’s a whole other world I know nothing about.
That doesn’t mean there are no options. Can’t find an agent? Go with an indie publisher. Don’t want an Indie? Self-publish on Amazon. There are hundreds of publishing blogs on query letters, manuscripts, and contests about opening pages. There are ten thousand opinions on how to get your book published, and one-in-ten-thousand chance of actually getting picked up off the slushpile.
Enter Comedic relief. A good friend of mine (since seventh grade) lives in NYC. “The Broadway Knitmaster,” as we’ll call her, flooded me with tons of helpful sites and steered me in great directions, all while giving me realistic feedback on my manuscript (which she loved because my baby is freaking cute), and debating politics. When the rejections on my queries started coming in, she sent me a link to help me laugh. An anonymous agent blogs about the epic query fails on Slushpile Hell. If I thought my query letter was bad… man, these people are in a world of hurt. It seriously brightens my day. I’m evil like that.
I spent hours discussing the manuscript with my beta readers. I’m pretty sure my sister never wants to hear “but what did you really think” again. Teachers, Librarians, a published author, teens (it’s a YA), everyone had constructive feedback, and everyone loved it. Or everyone lies really well.
I figured that if I want to be a serious writer, a.k.a. do more than keep this lovely little blog, I had to start acting like one. No, I will not be dressing eccentrically or start a Hemingwayesque drinking problem. My best friend, Little Miss Pioneer, and I spent hours on the phone, like that’s anything out of the ordinary, designing the most awesome website ever… RebeccaElizabethYarros.com. Now the whole world can weigh in. Yay.. I think. Jason urged and I signed up for a writer’s conference in NYC to meet with agents and learn how deep this rabbit hole really goes. Plus, I’ll get to grab dinner with the Broadway Knitmaster, making it that much sweeter.
Maybe this is nothing. Maybe this is everything. The only thing I know for certain is that for the first time in a very long time, it’s all mine. It has nothing to do with the army, or Jason’s flight schedule, or his insane TDY dates. This is something from my soul that nothing about our lifestyle can take away. I am so very proud of Jason for achieving rank, graduating flight school, pulling A’s in college, the list could go on and on. But now, I feel like I’m finally chasing my own dream, and it’s amazing! Well, other than the form rejection emails. Those suck. But they also prove that I’m out there on a limb.
So here’s to dreams and chasing those suckers down whenever we can. Between deployments, TDY’s, PCS’s, and the utter insanity the military lifestyle brings, don’t lose yourself. We’re not just along for the ride, this is our life too. This is what I’ve chosen to do.
Because my baby is freaking cute.