A few years ago, I finished my first young adult manuscript, a whopping 78,000 words, and I was going to find myself an agent. I’d spent almost a year writing and editing, so clearly I was ready to be published. I researched agents and started submitting queries. Like so many writers, I thought I had something special. I thought my idea was the next big thing, that my writing was different and would reach the right people. I’d be snatched up and sign a contract with a big publishing house. I waited for the email, knowing it would come. I did have many agents ask for my manuscript, which told me I was moving in the right direction. In the meantime, I worked on the series because of course my book would turn into a trilogy. Writing late at night while my kids slept was a must.
During this time, I did very little sleeping myself.
I was burning the candle at both ends, but that was fine with me. Writers must make sacrifices and I was paying my dues.
As a member of the Society for Children Book Writers and Illustrators, I found their winter conference was fast approaching in New York City. I also had an agent considering my manuscript who worked in New York City.
At midnight one night I was working on my manuscript when I had an idea. I walked into my bedroom and woke my husband.
“Honey, would it be alright if I went to New York City next month. I want to go to a writer’s conference, plus there’s that agent reviewing my manuscript that I want to meet. I could show her what a great client I’d be to represent.”
Being the supportive spouse, he gave me a kiss, wished me luck and went back to sleep.
It was set.
I arranged care for my 4 children, made flight plans and started preparing for my life-changing trip.
New York City, a place where a writer’s dreams come true and I was ready. I was so ready to move forward, bored with days and days of writing and solitude. I wanted the taste of publishing and I wanted it now. Every writer I met, every author who spoke, every agent with suggestions, I took to heart. I was salivating to be published. I wanted success others were taking about. I knew it was against the odds, but I would push away any thoughts that told me otherwise.
Ambitious? Yes. Naïve? Definitely. Living in reality? That is still in question.
Did I get my big break in New York City?
Actually, several months ago I finally set that 78,000 word manuscript aside, exhausted with all the resources I’d tried, all the edits, the almost publicist who was so anxious to help me, the agent’s who passed on my work, the well-known author who requested to read it, all my leads had died out and it was time to start something new.
I fought it for a while, but eventually gave into an idea I kept having in my dreams. I’m about 100 pages into my new YA novel, loving every turn down the road, marveling about all I’ve learned about writing, the tips I’m applying, all the books I’ve read that help me be more empathetic to the process and much more patient with myself.It’s been almost 3 years since that first trip to New York City. Tonight, I sit in New York City with my husband at my side. I’m humming the show tunes from Phantom of the Opera and listening to the rain beating down outside. I'm here as a tourist, celebrating my 13-year wedding anniversary with the man I love. This time, I’m not in New York City as an overly anxious, super-ambitious, want-to-be-published writer, but as a more dedicated and hopefully more mature woman who loves to travel and see new things, who respects where artists come from and what motivates them. Sure, I’ve brought my new manuscript along and I’m working on it late at night while my husband sleeps, but I’m more at peace. I’m alright with the process, with learning more and more about writing, with putting my best self into my work and knowing that’s enough and some day, if I’m really lucking, an agent will like my work, but my main goal is to write and to find joy in the journey. Yes, New York City is a place where dreams come true. I see the publishing houses, agent’s offices, but it’s also just a really cool place to visit, to hold my husband’s hand and enjoy the heartbeat of the city.