This Story Has No Ending
This post is inspired by what transpired for my writing journey this past week. If you're unaware, it stems from this tweet I made on the day Pitch Wars announcements went up and my name was not on the list of YA mentees.
I was hurting, I was irritable, I was jealous thinking, "why not me?" Here I was putting my writing out into the world for what feels like the millionth time and... nothing.
Like my title says, this story doesn't have an ending.
I don't have the flashy news to share with you all that I struggled and worked my butt off and all the pieces fell into place with a contest, agent, book deal, etc. Nope. I've got none of those to share. I read time and again wonderful stories from dear friends or colleagues about their writing journeys that quickly fall into place for publishing standards. I also read about the ones where they worked for years and years on their work before finally making a breakthrough. Both are valid and amazing to cheer for. Sometimes though, cheering can be hard.
This was my second time applying for Pitch Wars, this time with a different book, and if I apply to Author Mentor Match, it'll be my third time there, too. I've been apart of the Twitter writing community for two years now and in total I've applied six times to contests, participated in three pitching events, and queried 30+ agents with absolutely no requests. My first book, my heart story I started when I was 13, was shelved this time last year which raked up most of these numbers. Though it introduced me to my two wonderful, beautiful, all-around lovely Critique Partners that I still work with today. Now I understand there was too much in it needing changes and I'm not at the right place in my career to fix it. One day, maybe, but at the time it was one of the most heartbreaking things I did by shelving it.
But in the wait period last year for Pitch Wars, a new story came to me. While walking my Aunt & Uncle's dogs in their local town's graveyard, I suddenly saw a teen girl walking around and then a few others with her. I had no idea who she was and while the classical station played (it all seems very fate-like now) I asked her who she was and many pieces fell into place quickly. I started writing the beginnings of it on September 12th 2017, and when I didn't get into Pitch Wars or Author Mentor Match R3, dove head first into it. I also made my first aesthetic for it around that time and was shocked at the love it quickly received online.
Fast forward to now and I've written three drafts of THE GRAVEYARD KEEPER'S DAUGHTER, a story that has my heart in entirely different ways than my first book does. It forced me to be vulnerable with a lot of emotions I kept hidden away with things that were happening in my life and continue to affect me today. And not only that, it connected me with SO MANY amazing, fantastic, inspiring people that have stories I love and, somehow, love mine as well. They were cheering me on and helping me get ready for Pitch Wars this year, because before now I had never put this story out into the world to be judged and from the excitement this one was getting, I thought, "This is it."
But this story doesn't have an ending.
I received two full requests from Pitch Wars mentors, a number far different than my 0 from last year, and I was sure it meant good things were coming for me and my graveyard kids. And then my name wasn't on the list. I'd lost, clearly. Maybe my graveyard story wasn't as good as I thought it was and I needed to stop thinking my writing journey would be some grand, movie-like thing where I came out in my ball gown after what felt like so long in a paper bag.
This lesson I tweeted above is something I'm learning every day now. Except, in the case of Pitch Wars, I didn't get in, but I realized something just as important as any mentor critique would have given me. Remember how I mentioned there were so many wonderful people who helped get me ready for the contest? Well, they were still there afterwards and actually, that number was far larger than before. I had so many friends who reached out to see how I was doing and cheer me up and remind me my story still mattered and I still mattered in this long journey. I was actually a little overwhelmed with how much outpour of love fell on me when I didn't get in and how so many offered to beta or give query help or just tell me that they were on my side.
I always knew I was part of a community here, but never had I realized how strong and large it was. And that made me just as emotional as when I didn't get in (but in an entirely different, positive way!). I've seen many tweets over the last two years talk about finding your community and how it's just as or more important than getting into a contest and yet, I never had fully digested this, until now, when my eyes were opened to my own experience with it.
So, this story doesn't have an ending like many others do with getting into a great contest like Pitch Wars or Author Mentor Match or getting an agent or book deal. But I keep persevering as we writers have to do in this biz. As I push forward into entering Author Mentor Match for the third time or taking my beta feedback and working on my fourth round of edits, I know however long this journey continues to be (and what's in store for my graveyard children), I'll have an army of supporters lifting me up, always.
And I hope that you too, dear reader, have or find that type of community with me.