i think i just did something brave

I sent my book in.

An agent asked to see some of it. I sent her as much as I’ve written. 138 pages.  But I have the rest of the plot. Most of it, anyway. I have it scribbled in about ten notebooks and worked over on my chalkboard and in thirty word docs in a folder on my computer. I have so many versions. I have so many things crossed out, so many failed ideas, so much to clarify. Most of the time, when I look at it, I think entirely new things. I have entirely new criticisms. I wonder suddenly if all of the characters have the wrong hair color. If the story is actually stupid. I can’t remember how I thought of it. Sometimes I stare at the words blankly, unable to see even a page into my book’s future.

It took me over two months to send her something. Not because I didn’t have it. But because I was afraid.

I was so afraid, I was paralyzed.

Not of rejection, but of the after.

After she rejects it, I thought, will I be able to keep writing?

I have been rejected many, many times. I mean, obviously. I’m a writer, and I send stuff out. Often, I don’t even get a note, I just never hear back. Often, it’s a form letter. At first, I would lose a day to each one. But it’s been almost two years since I started sending stuff out, and now I glance at it and get back to work. Sometimes I even laugh, a hard, bitter, laugh, to myself. I laugh sardonically at the absurdity of it all and pour myself a cup of coffee and drink it black. I roll a cigarette and smoke it thoughtfully, squinting into the glare of the anonymous city.



No. That’s not true. But I do laugh once in a while, at the silly, repetitive cycle.

Those are short pieces, the ones that get rejected or published. They are not books. They are straightforward. Clever or not clever enough. Topical or sensational or marketable or not enough of any. They are not sprawling fiction about a girl who kills things by accident when she gets angry. Who doesn’t yet know who she is. Who lives in a white house at the edge of a cliff, in the middle of nowhere.

I don’t know why I am writing that book, exactly. I mean, it has nothing to do with the other things that I write. It’s just what I want to write. So that’s the answer, then. It’s what I really want to write. It’s what I write in my time off.

And that’s why I’m afraid. Because it is so complicated, to piece together a world, and fill it with stories, and braid them together in interesting but simultaneously simple ways.

(a book)

I end up describing food too much. I always do. Probably 10% of my book is action, 20% is important plot development, and the other 70% is a series of intensely detailed descriptions of everything everyone is eating. And the stuff that they are preparing, to eat tomorrow. And the stuff that they wish they were eating right now. And the stuff that they will probably eat sometime in the future, after they fight an epic battle.

I’m joking. It’s not that bad.

“It’s pretty bad,” my brother Gabe said, after reading it aloud (and doing some amazingly evil voices for several only ambiguously evil characters). “And I’m hungry.”

The point is—writing a whole book is time-consuming. It’s mind-consuming. And you need hope.

So if she rejects me, I thought, I might give up. And then what will happen to the girl who is still accidentally killing things? What if she never learns how to manage her terrible power? What if she never learns to use it to heal the world? What if she never finds out who she is?

I’m afraid for her.

But I’m happy for me. Because I sent it in. Thus proving that I can move my fingers over the keys again. That I can hit send. Which is an important button. That I believe in myself. I think. Or at least I believe in getting things done.

I know I proved something. It’ll come to me.

That there is hope. That’s it.

I think that when I sent my book in, I let myself hope that one day I will finish it. That it is going somewhere. That the girl will learn who she is and learn to like herself.

“Let’s celebrate!” said Bear.

Even though I might get rejected tomorrow.  Even though maybe I’m not even good at writing a book.

It was exactly the right reaction.

(there is a food in my book that is a lot like cheese sticks. but more…fantastical.)

*  *  *

Have you ever tried to write a book?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in spaghetti straps. Is that still a term?

THE WINNER OF THE GIVEAWAY!! I’m doing that now. I wish I could give you all amazing dresses, but I had to pick one number. And it belonged to….Adrienne!! Her comment was #123. Adrienne, write to me when you see this and I’ll get hook you up! Congratulations!!!! I hope you’ll share a pic of yourself in the new outfit when you get it!

And a reader cake pic, from commenter Bethany Actually, to top it all off. This one is so awesomely artistic:


Kate on June 1st 2012 in work, writing

35 Responses to “i think i just did something brave”

  1. Eat the Damn Cake » NOW CLOSED. win anything you want from eShakti! (a giveaway) responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    [...] winner announced at the bottom of this post! [...]

  2. Sheryl responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Sending in the book was brave! It’s not the same at all as sending in an article. More heart and soul goes into a book.

    As far as my own writing, I’ve written a novel or two of my own back when I was in school. Since then, not so much. I’m playing around with something that might turn into a book soon, but it’s not going as well as I’d like. Or I’m not focusing as much as I’d like. One of the two.

  3. Karen responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Bear’s totally right by the way: utterly celebration-worthy.
    It’s a book I’d want to read, food descriptions and all (I love food descriptions).

  4. Kate responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Maybe you’ll get to read it someday! I really hope so!
    And the food descriptions always feel so important at the time… :-)

  5. Allyson responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Kate, I needed this. Thank you. Your post showing up in my inbox was kismet. I actually start writing my book today. I’m scared as hell but it feels good. I am completely new to blogging and writing and I fight the urge to give up almost every day. There is a safety in not trying. But as the old adage states, life starts where the comfort zone ends. Thank you for the inspiration. And good luck to you, I look forward to immersing myself in your book when it is finally published. And it WILL be.

  6. Laura responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Congrats! I think celebrating is definitely in order. Sometimes it’s hard to keep things in perspective but–you’re so young and you’ve got well over a hundred pages written (plus an interested agent!). You’re already on your way.

    There are so many people who allow the fear of rejection to prevent them from showing the world their work–or even writing the next page. I let myself be one of them for longer than I should. Thankfully, I’ve gotten past most of that and have been making steady progress on my own book.

    Your blog is one of my favourites. Keep writing. You’re going to make it.

  7. Kate responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    Let me know how it goes! Don’t give up!

  8. Kate responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Thank you!!

  9. maggie responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    hooray for being brave! congrats on sending it in – let us know how it goes :)

  10. Melanie responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    You ARE brave so pat yourself on the back heartily. I have written and destroyed a book half written, three times. :)

    That cake pic is some fancy nice photography!

  11. Life [Comma] Etc responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Wait a sec, you didn’t address the other side of this coin: What if it’s phenomenal and she wants to buy it?

  12. Kate responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    I will let you guys know!

  13. Kate responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    @Life [comma] Etc
    Ha! I can’t even imagine that! Eeek! I think that tiny hope is there, somewhere, in the back of my mind, but I’m trying frantically to suppress it, so that I don’t end up even more disappointed.

  14. katilda responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I once applied to work at Target in high school….several of my friends worked there, so it seemed like a good idea, and I felt perfectly qualified. They made me fill out forms and surveys online for more than an hour, and then I went home and waited. And waited. And then one day, a short postcard came in the mail saying “thanks but no thanks.” A postcard? Not only is it a form letter…it’s not even in an envelope, so the entire post office knows I got rejected. I lit the postcard on fire and put it in the kitchen sink. I think my mom got mad.

  15. Sarah the Violinist responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Congratulations, Kate!

    ” Nothing is too good to be true, nothing is too good to last, nothing is too wonderful to happen.” – Florence Scoville Shinn

    For the record, I celebrate at least a little every time I take an audition, whether or not I win the position. :)

  16. Lacey responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    You prove your awesomeness just by submitting it at all! Please let us know how it goes!

  17. Claire responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Congratulations! Submitting big things definitely takes courage — and a whole lot of emotional energy. I have only experienced this with submitting articles to academic journals, but I can really identify with the feeling of exposure. When we get reviews back from journals (another soul-wrenching aspect of the academic process), my friend and I sometimes force the other one to the review files first and summarize, since when it’s your own work it can be too scary to contemplate what the responses might contain…

    Also, have you read Wise Child (and Juniper) by Monica Furlong? They were some of my YA favorite books — I recall them having lots of detailed descriptions of food and food preparation. In general, something about how you were describing your novel reminded me of Wise Child… and now I’m looking forward to reading your book!

  18. San D responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    I know the feeling. I have “sent” in a variety of things over the years, from grant applications to ideas to present at national conferences. Once you let the idea “go” it is out of your hands and sort of like a stone lifted off your chest. At first (when I was sending in teacher applications, way back when) I was eagerly awaiting an answer, only to either hear nothing, or to get a postcard, or to see the position filled by a picture of the new teacher in the paper. I learned that people working in the personnel offices of schools were not brought up with proper manners (geeze, at least let the person know by phone!). As I got older, I would send things out with the attitude that “this is good, and if they don’t accept the idea, it’s their loss”, and then I wouldn’t wait for an answer, in fact I would forget about it. Then when I got it (a grant for example) I would say “oh shit, what DID I write that I intended to do???”…same with the workshops. I would have to go back into my files to retrieve what I wrote in the application to refresh my memory. I don’t know if I got better at the writing of those things, or if my attitude helped in the writing, or if I became more selective and applied for things that were directly suited to what I do, but I surprised myself by actually being selected for the grants, and for teaching workshops at national conferences.

    So, I think the fact that you sent it out proves that you are ready.

    San D

  19. claire responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Kate, you are a very smart and wonderful writer, it just takes time for the rest of the world to catch on. Yes I too am very proud of you, but then that is not new. I remember all the other things you attempted and succeeded, ie: poetry slam, etc. Art sent in for important people to view. On and on, Keep being brave, and you will surprise yourself. CRF

  20. Sam responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    What an amazingly honest post…It is scary, and impossibly brave what you did. And even more brave is the fact that you are writing a book. That you are putting pieces of your heart and soul onto the page, and telling a story. I have been blogging for a little while now, and while there is amazing satisfaction in putting my words and thoughts out there in snack-size pieces, there is a book in me, somewhere, I know it for sure. It has been simmering on the back burner for awhile, taking shape, and it is almost ready to be written. And, like you, beyond the fear that comes with writing is hope, and celebration, and fun. Congratulations on taking this first, beautiful step. Looking forward to reading your story soon.

  21. Stacey responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Way to go, sending in that book! It’s a scary feeling, I’m sure.

    I once wrote a first draft of a novel. It was awful. I’m more than willing to edit and re-write my work, but it was so bad that in the end, I didn’t love it enough to keep working at it.

    Some of my favorite books constantly talk about food, which I love, mostly because I’m always thinking about my next meal, so it’s fun to read about what other people are eating.

  22. ahu responded on 01 Jun 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Well done Kate :) you should be proud of yourself !!!

  23. Laura responded on 02 Jun 2012 at 1:03 am #

    I think it’s awesome! Either way, you won this round!

  24. Deedee responded on 02 Jun 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Ive looked at the bottom of every post as instructed…who won the prize? :o )

  25. San D responded on 02 Jun 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    @Deedee, look above at the end of THIS post, under her unroast.

  26. bethany actually responded on 02 Jun 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Celebration is absolutely the right response. Maybe with some cake!? :-)

  27. Mandy responded on 02 Jun 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    Yes, Kate–that was very brave!

    I look forward to reading your book when it’s published!

  28. Celynne responded on 04 Jun 2012 at 10:58 am #

    I got about 40K into the 50K NaNoWriMo challenge last year, but I ran out of steam. I only decided to participate on the first day and didn’t have an actual plot line to follow and that complicated things a tad. My problem is I am terribly lazy and my brain keeps wondering why I want to bother typing out a story when it already exists in its completeness in my head! Oh silly lazy brain…

  29. Kate responded on 04 Jun 2012 at 11:31 am #

    40k is pretty good! I used to write books without plot lines and then try to figure the plot out as I went. I FINALLY learned that I had to sit down and work on the plot first, for months and months.
    What was your book about?

  30. Kate responded on 04 Jun 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Also, thank you everyone for all this support!!

  31. Lynn responded on 05 Jun 2012 at 9:40 am #

    *high-five!* So proud of you!!!

  32. I responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I enjoy reading your posts and how you pour yourself out into them evn if just a little. I’d imagine you couldn’t help but do the same in the lives of your characters: give them detail, emotion, passion, etc and the fact that you said you feel scared for your girl in whether or not it will come together for her makes me think I’m not wrong :) . It sounds pretty intense as far as all the killing goes but you know someone will learn from it and make sense if their own life. Totally random here, I was listening to the radio and they were talking about America’s Got Talent but not to talk about the contestants but rather something random that Nick Cannon had said that helped the person on the radio put their life in perspective. Nick Cannon talked of how their twin babies learning to walk and how Nick had forgotten that they don’t learn in one day. It takes time. The person in the radio took it to heart for a different reason understanding that they can’t expect to get it right away and that means that they may fall sometimes but that doesn’t mean they won’t get back up.
    In my opinion falling is the chance to get back up :)

    Good luck Darlin I wish you well

  33. I responded on 08 Jun 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Oh oh. And even if there were a lot on what the people eat: in my acting class we had to figure out a whole life for our characters we played before we acted them out even if our line was only a sentence. We did have to say what they’re choice of dinner was because it gives a hint as to the kind of people they are: cheese burger eaters means they’re possibly not lactose intolerant they don’t care too much about weight or calories etc which may seem they’re not uptight and so on. Now I know Yiu were joking about how much food you put in there lol but ya know it you can have your audience understand why what they eat is necessary without saying it besides hunger you’re good to go :) ya know even a health guru could eat a burger and that would spark lots of explanation. Was it in impulse: if so does that make impatient/ impulsive or so on.

  34. Rapunzel responded on 15 Jun 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    My sister and I wrote a book. Sort of. It’s a kid’s story, inspired by animals we encountered while work for a year at a National Wildlife Refuge. They form a sort of fellowship to save the world. It’s dramatic and sweet. It’ll probably never get published, but it was fun to write together. Recently I’ve bought for myself sketch pads and water color supplies to try illustrating it–though I’ve never been able to draw anything before, much less paint! I haven’t started trying yet though. I think I’m too afraid to start trying!

  35. Eat the Damn Cake » low on the hope scale, but climbing responded on 17 Oct 2012 at 5:04 am #

    [...] a year and think, “Dear LORD. Who gave that girl a laptop and told her she could write on it?” But secretly, that is the accomplishment. The quiet one we goal-chasers so often run right by without noticing. It’s the way you get [...]