Just when I was feeling frustrated with my own writing. Just when I started to think it’s a tad pointless, along came Christie Craig.
Christie was guest speaker at Monday night’s SCBWI chapter meeting. Her topic was “Genre jumping and finding your voice.” She talked a bit of her own career and how she started writing in ’84. It took ten years for her to publish her first book, thirteen to publish the next three and she just recently hit the NY Times Bestseller list! Which says a lot for perseverance and tenacity! She admits that she knew nothing about writing when she first started but kept reading books on the craft. She also studied each genre carefully (which I think translates to reading . . . a lot!) And she paid attention to what makes a good essay. Then to what makes a good romance novel. And finally, to what makes a good Y.A. novel. Christie’s latest project has been her paranormal trilogy, the Shadow Falls series.
Three things Christie said and did will stick with me for a while . . . well four things really. The first was the fact that it took her ten years to publish her first book! I’ve not been at it that long and I feel as if I’m still learning. Next was when she shared how, over the years she’d met many writers whom she thought were far better than she was at the craft. One by one they became disillusioned (hmmmm) and they quit writing. She also said to ignore the notion of mastering one genre. Rather, be a jack of all trades. I liked this advice . . . I’m a lover of the short story, my first prose publication was a short story! Lately I’ve been thinking about jumping back into it again. It’s comfortable to me.
The last thing Christie did was to roll out one of those traveling suitcases. She opened up a large white envelope and started pulling rejection notices out of it, dropping them into the suitcase. Once that envelop was empty, she took up another and did the same until the suitcase was littered with bad news. She must have had over a thousand rejection notices. She laughed when she held up a 1/4 sheet, saying how she hadn’t even been worth a full sheet of paper to this publisher!
By the end of her presentation I’d abandoned my own little pity party and thought that, if she can stick with it through all that, well then, so can I.
I also figured I’d better start working on improving my paltry little collection of rejection slips!