Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, USA!

The first half of July's theme is the pursuit of happiness and what better day to celebrate that than our country's birthday? Our forefathers were in pursuit of a lot of things and you have to admire their willingness to fight so diligently for what they believed in.

Pursuing publication is a bit like that, though, thankfully, no bayonets or big tea parties.

I started writing for publication when my youngest started kindergarten. I'd given up a great career as a corporate meeting planner (all the travel wasn't conducive to starting a family when my husband and I wanted me to stay home to raise them), so when the youngest was gone all day, what was I going to do with myself?

Answer: I picked up a few pencils, some spiral-bound notebooks (in the days before everyone had laptops), and I started writing my story. Umpteen revisions later, it's still not published, but I hold out hopes that maybe someday it will be.

But then I had this 400 page manuscript; now what do I do with it? I started on the pursuit of publication (see how this ties in?) I joined RWA, went to every chapter meeting of my local chapter, started going to workshops and conferences and lunches. Asked a zillion questions, pitched, got rejections, entered contests, won some, lost some... But all the time I kept writing.

This was what I wanted to do and the only way to get published is to have a publishable project. So if the first one wasn't going to be that one, I had to have another one ready to go. I remember at one group pitch appointment the agent asked which of my 3 manuscripts I wanted her to look at and I said, "All of them." There was silence at the table. After all, everyone knows you're not supposed to pitch more than one story at a time. That agent sized me up (and I think was a little impressed by my brass ones at saying that) and asked to see all of them. Granted, I did get a rejection, but it was with a "send me what else you have." Unfortunately, when In Over Her Head was out, she didn't have time to read it when my multiple offers came in. That's okay; I LOVE my agent, and this other agent and I have a great relationship.

In my pursuit of publication, my family has had to make some sacrifices: pizza is now a staple of our diet (though the kids don't find this a sacrifice at all), the house is a disaster the closer to deadline I am (again, not a sacrifice at all from the kids), I can't hover over them and tell them what they should be doing (sacrifice? are you kidding me??? They're loving the autonomy!), and homework/bedtime are on them (again, they aren't complaining - though I am at some of the grades... arrrrgh!). I've missed out on neighborhood gatherings, or had to go late, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make in my pursuit of happiness.

I've always wanted to be a writer, and if I'd realized that this was actually possible way back when I was in college and first started thinking seriously about it, I would have pursued it even more. But just like "Nanny" in the picture, better late than never!

Happy Fourth of July! I'm actually taking this afternoon off from writing and editing and copy edits to go to a party, so I'll be checking in on my iPhone (aka, Baby Jennifer) as I dry off from the pool!


  1. And I quote: "I started writing for publication when my youngest started kindergarten. I'd given up a great career as a corporate meeting planner..."

    --I tend to be a speed reader, which means sometimes it gets me into trouble. So when I read this part of your blog, my eyes read:

    "I started writing for publication when I started kindergarten. I'd given up a great career as a corporate meeting planner..."

    And I thought, now that's Judi. She's always so funny! Great blog! :) Happy 4th!!! Look forward to seeing you at conference with all those mermen. Hmmm-hm!

  2. LOL! A writer's work is never done! I'll be working to meet my Tuesday deadline, but I'll take time out for dinner and fireworks!

  3. Mine actually starts complaining after several days of fast food and pizza. Maybe if I wasn't such a great cook... I think I'll start serving more green leafy vegetables. ;-)

    I'm glad you pursued happiness, Judi, and found publication. Have a fun and happy holiday!

  4. Hi Judi! Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your writing journey.
    I have plenty of dust bunnies in what used to be an immaculate house. I'm having too much joy writing to care. :}

  5. Ah, Terry, you made me laugh! Actually, I was always the one who planned events, so, yeah, I guess you could say I was a meeting planner back then. And I did win Honorable Mention in the Caldecott Award in 2nd grade, so maybe you're closer to the truth than I was!

    Cheryl, I'm with you - copy edits for I Dream of Genies AND the manuscript for Genie Knows Best due Tuesday, too. I'm reading reading reading!

    Olivia - yes, green leafy veggies will make pizza seem like manna from the gods after a few days!

  6. Thanks for the story of your road to publication, Judi! You make light of it, but it can't be easy to raise a family and pursue publication at the same time. And you do so much for RWA, too!