The last four months have been a crazy whirlwind of having so many of my writerly goals come to fruition. Right now I’m in the fray and working on the continuation of that dream.
When I have a second to stop and really think about how much has changed since February, I’m still completely overwhelmed with a sense of awe and gratitude so big–I sometimes have to remind myself that this REALLY IS my new reality.
You wrote a book that sold to a traditional publisher.
Not only that, but they also contracted for a second.
When did that become true for ME?? While it at times feels like it was overnight, I know the truth. There have been thousands of overnights between today’s success and yesterday’s start.
And I can honestly say today’s success proves to be worth every “no thank you” that I’ve listened to along my journey. I finally have the opportunity to work with a fantastic editor who is invested in seeing my book shine and do well.
While I’ve worked with some fantastic freelance editors on my other books–I can honestly say that working with Grace at Sourcebooks has been a next level experience for me and my writing. I imagine it’s what it must feel like to work with a professional sports coach–they’re reading you, your output, and pushing to get that last 5% out of you.
And now that we are nearly finished with this second round, and I see that finish line on the horizon, I’m starting to let myself get excited about some of the next phases of development: copy edits, cover design, and hopefully some foreign sales.
I’ve imagined writing this post for a long time…years. Eleven to be exact. That’s how long I’ve had publishing on my brain.
To say I’m still processing recent events with regards to my writing career is simply an understatement. As I was trying to explain to my husband last night, sometimes you want something so much, and for so long, that when it finally happens you’re not exactly sure what to make of it. How does a person process elation?
Last month, two days after my birthday, I received an email from my agent who was 30,000 miles up in the air on a return flight from New York.
Subject: Offer/Her Perfect Life
I glanced at those words and a flood of adrenaline hit my system. My body responded to what they meant before I even clicked the email open.
Before writing Her Perfect Life (my first work of women’s fiction) I wrote six other novels. One mainstream adult and five young adults books–all of them self-published.
But I had long wanted to partner with a traditional publisher.
One of the really great things about self-publishing, of course, is that you have all the control with regards to getting your work out there. The only person that has to say, “yes” is you. And then, once you tell yourself, “yes” you get to work. A. Lot. Of. Work. A lot of learning. A lot of everything. And that is really great because you have all the agency over that process. It feels good, productive…empowering.
There are many aspects of the self-publishing process that I love. But the one I hated was the difficulty of truly wearing all the hats; specifically with regards to marketing and audience reach. For the type of books I was writing, young adult, I found it to be particularly difficult because the wider YA market can be hard to reach without the support and connections provided though a traditional publisher.
So by 2017, armed with very realistic expectations, I was ready to try finding a traditional publisher again. I found a new agent, pitched her a new book in a new market for me (women’s fiction), and got to work writing, revising, and getting ready for my agent to take Her Perfect Life out on submission by the end of 2018.
And on February 26th, two days after my birthday, the offer came in.
Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.
Her Perfect Life will be published in the Spring of 2020 by Sourcebooks Landmark. They have also contracted for a second untitled work of women’s fiction.
Am I happy? That word doesn’t even begin to brush the surface of how I feel. I imagine it’s like finishing a marathon. All those hours, weeks, months (for me years) of training in order to cross that line, throw your arms in the air, and finally declare, “I did it!”
For sure I wasn’t the fastest, sometimes I walked, and I was nowhere near the podium of writers who won their first race. But the elation of getting here? That emotion is just as sweet.
If you have a question you’d like me to answer on my blog, please send it to my email: rebecca (at) rrtaylor (dot) com
“A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn’t telling, or teaching, or ordering. Rather, he seeks to establish a relationship with meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all our lives trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story, begging the listener to say, and to feel, “Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.” To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.”
“Hi Rebecca, I’m a father of three, all in elementary school, and I work full time (often more than that) in the IT world. I have a book idea that’s been with me for years, but I just don’t ever seem to be able to find the time to get started. I know you work full time as well and also have kids. So what’s your secret?” Sincerely—————
Dear ——–, This is such a great question, and one that also gets asked a lot because it is a real concern for MOST writers. And I’m not talking about most NEW writers here, or even UPCOMING writers. Almost ALL writers work either full or part time and many are also juggling family responsibilities as well.
Very, very few writers earn enough money from their books or freelance work to sustain life–never mind three young kids. If you’d like to get really depressed, pop on over to John Scalzi’s blog and read his recent post, Author Incomes: Not So Great, Now or ThenWhich naturally leads us to a whole other question: WHY do I find time to write? But that is another blog post altogether, so I’ll stick to your actual question.
How? How when we are raising children we love, and working jobs, and paying bills, and doing laundry, and buying groceries, and making doctors and vet appointments, and getting our cars fixed, and driving our parents to the airport and our kids to practice, and not being a completely shittastic friend by forgetting our BF’s birthday…how on EARTH do we find time to sit in one place long enough with our fragmented focus to create a book?
*Takes giant cleansing breath* Excuse me…but that last paragraph really stressed me out. Anyway…I’m going to try and give the most honest answer I can here.
Sometimes, maybe most times, you don’t.
And that really is the truth. Sometimes, when you don’t have the ability to make a sustainable wage off your current writing career, you simply don’t find the time the write. The truth is, you’re too busy running from one hectic must do to the next. And when you do find half a moment for yourself, often you’re too exhausted to manage much more than flinging your ragged body into the nearest couch where either Netflix, X-Box, or various social media accounts promise to not make you think too hard for the next three, or four, or six hours before bed.
Wait…did I forget to mention those items in my very-busy-lady-list? Because, if we’re being honest, and I said I would try to give the most honest answer I could, we both know that both of us spend quite a sizable chunk of time on leisurely mind-numbing entertainment. Including me! For sure.
Also, time is spent on not mind-numbing and important to my writing activities–like reading other people’s books! But worthy or not, reading still takes time…right?
So, back to your question: How do I find the time to write when I work full time and raise kids?
I don’t FIND it, I MAKE it. And I make it out of those hours I would otherwise have been watching movies, scrolling through the internet, or even, as sad as it is when I have to push pause for my own work, reading other people’s books. I make choices everyday. Some days, probably most days honestly, I’m choosing to read, watch, chill. BUT, in any given year there have also been enough days where I’m choosing to sit down in front of my book and write; on average one book every eighteen months.
Some people write much more than this! Even with jobs and kids and life! They are much more disciplined than I have been up to this point, and their results are in their output. They can crank out 2, 3, 8 books a year! Maybe more.
But this is, again, another post for another day. What you should know is this: you already have the time to write. Probably plenty of it. You just need to be really, truly, painfully honest with yourself about how you spend it. Then, make the choice to spend it on something else…like that book you’ve been thinking about for years.
Do you have a question you’d like me to answer on my blog? Email it to me at: rebecca (@) rrtaylor (dot) com
My house is quiet. Which, after the last several days of cooking, eating, drinking, indulging, and general merry-making, feels like a decadent, meditative indulgence.
With my husband back at work, my daughter back to her swim practices, my son outside testing his new electric longboard, and the dogs crashed out on the couch in the front room, there is only the soft rush of the furnace and silence all around me.
It is nothing short of a heavenly relief for my introverted little soul.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoying hosting Christmas at my house, because I do. If I didn’t, well then, I would never offer in the first place. But when it’s done, I also love when the last guest leaves, and the ornaments are packed, and my grocery list can go back to the basics.
You may have already guessed that, even though it’s only the 28th, my house is completely back to the everyday business in normal dress. There isn’t even an evergreen scented candle left. I have friends and family who don’t pack up right away, they like to let Christmas hang well into the new year. I think for many of them they are truly sorry to see the season go. Personally, I love the fresh start feel of a new year and I like to start it off with a clean, Christmas clutter free house. Somehow it makes me feel more ready for whatever new experiences may be heading my way.
As I am a writer and a psychologist, one subject that
continues to fascinate me is individual creativity. We are all creative in one
aspect or another but like all abilities creativity is expressed in a multitude
of fashions and degrees. One person’s most creative act is using a spoon for a
shovel while another’s is using a Coke can to fix their engine; degrees of
What is creativity? J.P. Guilford (1967, 1988) proposed
creativity involves divergent rather than convergent thinking. Divergent thinking
requires coming up with a variety of ideas or solutions to a problem when there
is no one right answer and convergent thinking is “converging” on the best
answer to a problem and is, interestingly enough, exactly what IQ tests
measure. Consequently correlations
between creativity scores and IQ are low to moderate and really only relate in
that highly creative people rarely have blow average IQs suggesting that a
minimum of intelligence is necessary for creativity (Runco, 1992; Simonton,
Interestingly, creativity in the arts seems to peak, on
average, for people in their late 30s and early 40s. There are of course
exceptions; Michelangelo was in his 80s when he worked on St. Peter’s
Cathedral. But in general, creative work is thought to require two things,
experience and enthusiasm (Beard, 1874), people in their 30s and 40s have both
of these. Dean Simonton (1984, 1990, 1991) suggests that each creator may have
a certain potential to create that is realized over their adult years; like a
well of novel ideas that slowly runs dry as they are used up regardless of when
the tapping into them began; this may explain eminent works actualized later in
life. By my mind then, can there be any more horrifying event for a creator
than the completion of their opus? The Pulitzer darkening their door? “What
now?” I hear them cry.
We’ve all read those books, “How did they come up with
this?” Something so unique while still able to suspend disbelief, like
witnessing magic, it’s the way I felt after reading the first Harry Potter
book. This author had somehow transported me back to childhood (along with
everyone else) and I clamored for more (along with everyone else) unique and
yet still tapping into our ancient archetypes, our universal truths that ring our
I recently had a phone conversation with an old friend with whom I’d been out of touch. During the course of the conversation she asked me about writing, not really about mine specifically, more how does one go about it in general?
I had to think about it. Well let’s see, since I do it early before the kids break the silence, some sort of caffeinated beverage is required, preferably hot. Pajamas. Pajamas and warm feet, so socks or slippers are helpful. It’s nice if my desk is tidy, less distraction, but since this is a rarity I can’t really depend on it. It’s more of an ideal than a reality. Other than that, a blank or half-filled screen, (although the half-filled is easier) and oh, one more thing, motivation.
If you want to completely demystify the process, consider the act of writing as nothing more than a behavior, or series of behaviors, and behavior needs a motivation. It can be intrinsic or extrinsic but motivation to carry out the behavior is required. Funny thing about behavior, we don’t usually engage in anything without some sort of reward, carrot if you will, dangling out in front of our noses. So with writing, it helps a great deal, in fact I would say it’s almost essential, to be intrinsically motivated to write. The act itself is the reward regardless of the presence or absence of tangibles (money, publication, life-style of the rich and famous).
A few weeks ago some people were bantering around the question as to whether or not writing was hard. Some said yes, some said no, some said they loved having written. The looking back at what was accomplished with the satisfaction of it being done. I imagine you could determine from these answers how some people force themselves to their desks, glare out down the stretch of a stick so long the carrot is barely visible out on the horizon. I’ve done work this way, so have you; it is very hard. Believe me when I say how grateful I am for those days when I have carrots pop up just by pushing my keys.