Writers - We're All In This Together: A Guest Post by Gretchen McNeil

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ever since I joined up with the YARebels (http://www.youtube.com/yarebels), I've been getting a lot of emails asking me for writerly advice. And whenever someone asks me for writerly advice, I freeze.

Why me? I'm no expert. I'm barely floating along as it is!

Instant panic attack. Why? Because I'm not entirely sure I'm a real writer.

"Christ on a Cross," you say. "You don't think you're a real writer? What the hell does that make the rest of us?"

Just like me, baby. Just like me.

Three years ago, if you'd asked me the question "What do YOU do?" I'd have answered thusly: "I'm an opera singer currently working in television production." Notice the lack of the word "writer" in the above statement. Yeah, that's because I'd never written anything – ever – in my life.

Even so quickly may one catch the plague? Olivia asked herself in TWELFTH NIGHT. Fo shizzle. I literally woke up one morning and thought "I'm going to write a novel today." And either from sheer stupidly, overwhelming naiveté or obsessive single-mindedness, I wrote a novel. It took me five months. It was a piece of crap.

Once completed, I needed to figure out what to do with the damn thing. Doorstop? Too flimsy. Kindling? To feeble. Paperweight? Bigger than the paper. Crap. I guess I'd better query the damn thing.

135 rejections later, I could have made a door stop out of the "Thanks but no thanks" emails. Who knew?

"You should give up," the annoying voice of Doubt whispered in my ear. "You've failed."

Me? Give up? Puh-leez. "F off, voice of Doubt. I'm going to write another novel."

And I did. This time, I was lucky enough to land an agent, a Rockstar of an agent, the agent I share with my host Steph: Ginger Clark!

Yay! Streamers are dropped from the ceiling, champagne corks are popped, "We Are the Champions" booms through the loudspeaker. I won! I'm the big winner!

Yeah, no. Turns out, landing an agent is just the first in a seemingly endless array of hoops and mazes the writer must finagle on his or her way to being published. And each time you think you've mastered this Prisoner's Dilemma, a new beast rears its ugly head in front of you, like a publishing industry Hydra regrowing its heads into even more monstrous forms as soon as you've hacked one off.

Perhaps I'm being a bit dramatic.

My point is that we're actually all on the same road at the same time – the writer who only has an idea, the writer plugging through their first manuscript, the writer querying, the writer on sub, the writer submitting their second book proposal to their editor, the writer with nine NYT bestsellers who still agonizes over the next project lest it not live up to the public's standards. We're all there, together, slogging through the mire.

Why? Because we're all writers. And we are all in this together.

Bootay shake!

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, television producer, voice over artist & YA writer. Her agent is Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown. Visit her website at http://www.gretchenmcneil.com/ and read her awesome blog, http://gretchenmcneil.blogspot.com/.
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