This week’s Deb topic is about big decisions we’ve made as writers.
I’d like to talk about that time I decided to quit writing.
Back in 2015, I wore many hats. I was a stay-at-home mom of a feisty toddler. I was a wife. I was a full-time advertising copywriter, who worked remotely while also caring for my daughter. I was growing another human being. I was trying to become a published author. All at once. And I felt like I kept dropping the ball.
My husband reassured me I was doing great. We could live as “pile people.” People who didn’t fold laundry, but put a teetering stack of clean clothes on our bureau and pawed through when we needed a wrinkly shirt to wear.
He reassured me that I was a great mom. But I didn’t believe him, not when I sacrificed so much time away from my daughter to try to make my book dream possible. See, at the time, I was on submission for BECOMING BONNIE. This came after a rather devastating year of being on sub with a different agent for a different MS — that never sold. But, now, I was with a new agent, I had a new MS, and I’d been given another chance.
But to me, that chance felt like it was running out of steam. The rejections were piling up. They were “nice” ones — praising my writing, the concept, the voice… but just didn’t love the project enough to offer — and my agent reassured me we were getting close, but I was losing faith (in my abilities, not hers). You know that piece of advice writers always get: write your next novel. Well, I couldn’t. I was floundering. Big time. My agent tried to help guide me, but every new idea I tried to breathe life into ended up flat-lining.
My husband and I sat down to talk. “Is my dream worth all of this?” I asked him. He still reassured me. I wasn’t convinced.
I was tired. I was pregnant. I had writer’s block. I had spent the first (almost) three years of my daughter’s life seemingly trying to make the impossible, possible.
Hands down, I felt like I had failed. Before my daughter was even born, I set goals for myself:
Publish a book traditionally before baby #1. Nope. The first few MSs I wrote went nowhere. Baby was born. I didn’t sign with my former agent until my daughter was 5 months old (In 2014). Okay, so I was a little far behind, but I was now moving and grooving.
New goal: Get that MS published before we venture down the baby #2 path, in the hopes of my published book doing well enough that I could stop doing the kid/job tango during the day. The idea of doing a kid/kid/job tango from 9 to 5 made my heart rate soar.
But as I already told ya, my first agented MS went nowhere. And in was now 2015, with mere months to go before baby #2 came, and I obviously wouldn’t be publishing a book before his birth. Hell, I was now stomaching the horrible notion that a publication deal for BECOMING BONNIE before his Jan 1, 2016 due date was out of the question.
I cried, a lot. I did a lot of soul-searching. I hated the idea of giving up my insanely talented agent, who I worked so hard to get and who was working so hard to make my dreams come true. But I was at the point where my writing sacrifices (and my associated guilt) seemed to be too great for me to handle without a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I could try to do it,” I told my husband. “I can try to juggle the two kids and the day job and the writing if I have an end point: a release date.”
But I didn’t.
“Maybe you can put off writing for a few years until the kids are older?” he suggested.
That idea felt devastating (and I know it pained my husband to even suggest it. Like me, he struggled with the fact we’re a two-income family). I knew I couldn’t simply push pause with my agent (any agent, not just her). I’d have to start all over again. I wasn’t sure I had that in me.
“I’ll see how this submission plays out,” I said. I wasn’t sure how I’d approach the convo with my agent who I loved, but.. “If Bonn doesn’t sell, I need to be done. For the kids.”
The painful decision had been made. I was going to quit writing.
Of course *wags finger at God* that’s when my agent came to me with amazing news. At 9 months pregnant, I signed a contract with Tor Forge/Macmillan for BECOMING BONNIE. I had my light at the end of the tunnel. And after all I went through, I felt like all my sacrifices had been validated. I’m going to be a published author on May 9, 2017 🙂
On December 9th, I’ll be sharing more of my story over on Brenda Drake’s blog and giving away an early copy of BECOMING BONNIE. I hope you’ll check it out. Or, ya know, you could also preorder my book now 😉
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