You can know anything. It's all there. You just have to find it.

-Neil Gaiman


Friday, November 18, 2011

A Long and Winding Road

Approximately ten years ago I got a weird idea in my head.

I wanted to run a marathon.

I wanted to see if I could do it.

I always ran, but never long distances.  I thought it was some kind of boring torture for masochists.

But I started with a mile, then three, then five.  I started to like it - the solitude, the repetition, the stress relief, the calm that comes from working so physically hard that you have no room left for anxiety or fear or disappointment.

I would think a lot of random thoughts on those runs, training for that race.

The one I kept coming back to was this:
I want to write a novel.

So I did.  I approached it the same way as running a marathon.  A few yards, a few miles at a time, but in this case they were sentences and paragraphs and chapters.

I ran my first marathon in 2000.  It was horrible.

I wrote my first book, a three hundred page novel, in 2001.  It was horrible, too.

But I finished it.

And then I decided to keep going.

I even decided to go back and take writing classes.  I would take a class or two each semester, practicing and getting better, learning how to give and take critiques.

It's hard to believe it took a decade to get to where I wanted, but in some ways, I think it needed to happen the way it did.  For the first time in my life, I had to work really hard at something I wanted.  It wasn't just going to fall into my lap.

As a kid, I never had to work particularly hard in school to get good grades or kill myself to get on the varsity team.  Usually I would quit if I thought something was too hard or I wouldn't even try if I couldn't be sure I would succeed on the first try.

Not this time.  I really learned what rejection and failure felt like.  It sucks.

But then I got over it.

I promised myself I wouldn't quit until I got there.

They say, at least they do in Apocalypse Now, that victory smells like napalm in the morning.

I don't know about that.  I don't necessarily consider this a victory, but more of a vindication of sorts.

Vindication smells even better.  And it tastes like champagne.

So I would like to introduce my new agent, someone who apparently gets my sense of humor, God help her.

Her name is Hannah Bowman, and she is a literary agent for Liza Dawson Associates in New York.

I will write more about the book I wrote and the query letter that got her attention in a later post.

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