L.B. Thinks Twice about Spreading the News

Right before I got “the call,” I remember thinking how perfect the timing was. In just a few days, I was heading to an SCBWI conference. It would be a huge party, I figured, full of congratulations and hugs. But once I got there, I went very quiet. Didn’t want to tell anyone. The conference attendees were mostly pre-published writers, and I could easily remember my own feelings of jealousy whenever writers would talk about their book deals. I also remembered an even more unpleasant feeling–that because they had found success, it was more proof that something was wrong with me.

It’s funny how we sometimes look at other people’s successes as strikes against ourselves. When someone congratulated me at the conference, I found myself sharing how long it took me to get to this point (ten years); how many agents I ran through before finding the right one (Joan is number three); and how many turned me down during that year between agents before I signed with Joan (48. No joke.)

So you see, I didn’t just scratch out a manuscript on a pile of napkins in a cafe, land an agent and score a publisher on my first time out the gate. I put in my time and then some. I kept at it, trying to ignore that downer voice in my head. (“What if you’re 95 and on your death bed and have wasted decades toiling over words with nothing to show for it? Have you thought about that? Huh? Huh?”) And then one day, I got The Call.

I’m not going to tell you that it will happen to you if you don’t give up, but my book getting published is evidence that if you keep trying, keep revising, keep sending query letters out, keep going to conferences, keep studying successful books to improve your craft….you’re 100 percent more likely to reach your dream than if you don’t.

First of all, have faith. Then go write. It’s the only way to get from here to there.

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9 Comments

Filed under Celebrations, rejection and success, Writing

9 responses to “L.B. Thinks Twice about Spreading the News

  1. Mike Jung

    Your perseverance is inspiring, L.B! And yeah, I understand that urge to play it down out of consideration for the feelings of other writers – that kind of awareness is one of the things I really value about people in the kidlit world.

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  2. Well-said, Lisa. I congratulate you, not only on your success as a writer, but for your sensitivity as a friend and colleague. Kidlit people are the best. 🙂

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  3. This is a hard thing to navigate. On one hand, the moments of affirmation and achievement are few enough and far enough between in this field that we should all have the chance to crow and cheer for ourselves and each other when they come. On the other hand, the moments of achievement are few enough and far enough between in this field that its hard not to feel left out or jealous, or just a little discouraged when others have them and we don’t. Sounds like you handled it well, tempering your success with your story of how you got there.

    I agree with Mike that the kidlit community is a special one. I am so grateful that there have been a lot of supportive people along the way for me, and not so much jealousy or anger or back-stabbing behavior among my fellow MG/YA writers that I have heard of or experienced in other professional circles of various sorts.

    I do think this emotional roller coaster inherent to the writing life is one of the best reasons to find or build a small community for yourself–be it a critique group, a listserv, or a bunch of great people on Facebook. People with whom you can develop a relationship that can salve the disappointments and celebrate the victories!

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  4. I remember meeting you at that conference and I desperately wanted to hear your story! My book was out on submission at the time and I was eager to celebrate someone’s success. You’re so thoughtful to be so considerate. But I’m glad we can celebrate with you now.

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    • L.B. Schulman

      Thanks, Katy. It’s nice to know that there are people who want to hear other people’s good news. Really, in the end it means that publishers are buying….and I hope yours is next. Keep me posted and good luck!

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  5. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Your post resonated with me, too, L.B. Telling people that I have a book deal feels a little deceptive. I always want to follow-up by saying something like, “But have ya heard how freaking long it took?! Well, let’s see, back in 2005…”

    Yawn. I know not everyone wants to slog through all of that backstory. But yet it’s there, imbedded in the words, “I have a book deal!”

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