Sunshine, by Virginia Sanderson / flickr

Taking a chance

When Swoon Reads launched, I was nearly done with The Rules of Summer Camp. I still had revisions and writing group and some re-working to do, but I was almost there. Also, I wanted to submit to agents, as I’d done with previous novels. But I didn’t stop thinking about and considering Swoon Reads. Because I really, really like what they’re doing.

Swoon Reads publishes YA love stories with the help of their reader community. Basically, writers can submit their novels to the site and the community of readers reads the books, comments on them, rates them, and hopefully enjoys them. Then the team there makes publishing decisions based on the novels and the community. I don’t want to call it crowd-sourcing, because it isn’t, but it is definitely a community of readers with one thing in common: love of YA romance.

Swoon Reads is a place for the sort of YA books that I like to read. Fun, contemporary YA romance. It doesn’t have to be heavy or issue-driven. Maybe even something that can be described as “cute.” Something light to take to the beach or on a road trip. Something that a teenage girl (who I imagine being a lot like I was at that age) can escape in to for 250 pages and leave on the other end with a smile on her face and warmth in her heart and a flutter in her stomach.

And the best part is, that’s what The Rules of Summer Camp is to me. I’m glad that Swoon Reads gives this kind of novel a chance.

So I’ve considered for a while whether or not I wanted to submit it.
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Dandelion wish, by John Liu / flickr

What I Wish

I wish I could finish this novel.

I wish I wanted to start something new.

I wish I didn’t have so many ideas that will never be written.

I wish I didn’t get jealous easily.

I wish I was published.

I wish I didn’t love to write so much.

I wish I felt motivated to write.

I wish I didn’t get discouraged every time I read a new book.

I wish I was hopeful and optimistic again.

I wish I felt like I was good at this.

I wish I could get out of this slump.

I wish I didn’t have to write this list at all.

Sour Patch Kids, photo by Sarah Reck

What is wrong with me

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Everything points to the fact that I could have had this novel finished by April 1 and now April 1 is tomorrow and I’m not going to have it done.

The editing is done. By hand, at least. I have one chapter edited that still needs to be transferred to the computer. I’m still missing two scenes and need to finish two other scenes. And for the last month I simply haven’t done it. I don’t even have any excuses. I’ve had the time. I know what to write. It’s not like I have to invent the scenes or figure out where they go. I know all of this.

I just haven’t written them.

That’s not entirely true. I started the “Grand Canyon scene” and have two pages filled in my Moleskine, written over two different writing sessions. I also started to finish the awkward car scene this morning (fittingly) in the car via Google Voice which is always hilarious. (A good example is that I said “geocache” and it translated it to “AG of hash”.)

(Update: After writing and scheduling this post, I hunkered down and crunched out the rest of the awkward car scene in the car again. Still have to edit away Google Voice’s hilarious translation, but that at least leaves me with 1 1/2 or 2/12 scenes left, depending on what I end up with…)

But that’s it. I need to write less than 3,000 words and I’m coming up relatively empty.

So I ask again: what is wrong with me?
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Candle Light Tea, by Jalal Hameed Bhatti / flickr

I have a confession to make

Some days (most days) I want to stop writing.

To be honest, I’m not where I thought I’d be. I don’t know if I could have told you point-blank what I thought I’d be doing at 31 years old, but I had a few ideas. Married with kids, probably a stay-at-home mom, writing, a book (or two) published. But I have none of those things. I’m single, living alone, working 40+ hours a week. Writing-wise, I have a hell of a lot of rejections, no agent, and a huge heaping hole that hope once filled.

I’m not writing this for sympathy. I’m not writing this for anyone’s encouragement. I’m writing this as a confession because it’s hard for me sometimes to come to terms with this. It’s hard for me to keep writing when all I can see in front of me is more rejections, another discarded novel, ideas piling up, time and energy spent on doing what I love without the chance of it going out there into the world for everyone to enjoy.

I feel like I don’t have the time because I have a full-time job and have to work every day and when I get home and on the weekends the last thing I want to do is work on a novel. I feel like every time I see another 16-year-old or 20-year-old or early-20-something with their debut, second, third, fourth novels, that I’ve missed my window. I’m too old, too busy, too — something.
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Time, by Judy van der Velden / flickr

A history of writing in my life (part 3)

This is part three of the history of my writing life. If you missed it, here’s part one and part two.


I already talked about my early years and my schooling years, so now it’s time for a short foray into the years since then.

I wish I could be a writer full time, though I can’t imagine getting any more writing done than I already do. Now, I have to squeeze writing in time during my lunch break, on the weekends, in the car (Google text to type is both great and awful at the same time), before bed — any time I have a few minutes. Mostly, though, I’m just exhausted and uninspired and don’t write at all. Still — I have a feeling that if I ended up with the time and ability to write full time, it would end up as a constant list of things I did instead of writing.

I’ve written a lot since graduate school. One short story, a handful of poems, several novels. All of the novels are YA. I’ve queried four of them. I’ve had no offers of agent representation. It’s a maddeningly, frustrating, seemingly-endless loop of write, revise, re-draft, edit, set aside, read, touch-up, query, reject, reject, shelf it — start over again with something new.

As I started out five years ago, I tried to remember to stay on top of the trends. Instead of vampires, I tried a riff on werewolves. The novel, The Moonstone, is not one of my best. In fact, it’s probably only slightly above my MFA thesis in terms of writing, plot, and longevity. To be honest, I don’t even like werewolves and the supernatural / paranormal / fantasy obsession in YA fiction. What business did I have writing it? I know now that I was so eager to publish that I thought hitting the edge of a trend would work. Too bad werewolves never picked up post-vampire age.

Moving on, I tried to merge the uniqueness of my birthday (February 29) with a fantastical notion of what happens after death. In-Between and Ever-After came out of this, and I still adore this novel. It’s unfortunate that I was about a year behind on this trend, too. I started querying about the same time as Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and a few similar novels popped up. Even though I queried a little bit with The Moonstone, this second novel felt more a part of me than the previous. So getting rejections from both queries and requested manuscripts was more devastating than before. It also taught me a lot about the process, about “agent speak,” and about my own expectations. I still love this novel, and I probably always will. But what I know the most is that I really want to make sure that somewhere, sometime, in my career, I revisit the meaning and interest of Leap Day.
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