New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always had mixed feelings about them. On one hand, it’s nice to have goals. But on the other hand, it seems like a pretty easy way for people to set themselves up for failure. After all, we only get one chance each year to “start over” – to make personal commitments that will better our lives. So in theory, our resolutions should be HUGE, right?
Wrong! New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be huge at all! In fact, the best resolutions always seem to be the small ones – the ones you know you can and will accomplish. Of course, this is something I learned the hard way…
A little over six years ago, I had just finished writing a picture book manuscript that I was very happy with. On New Year’s Eve, I promised myself that I would find a publisher for it. Well as most writers know, finding a publisher is one of those things that’s easier said than done! Still, I sent my manuscript out to just about every independent publisher under the sun, hoping that at least one of them would want to publish my book. But nobody did, and as I began receiving rejection letters by the handful, I felt like a total failure. My precious book baby had been rejected, and because of that, I was unable to fulfill my resolution. But of course, my biggest failure in that instance was the resolution itself. I NEVER should have made a resolution that was so heavily dependent on the choices and actions of others. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t make anybody love my story. I couldn’t force anyone to publish my book. So that year, I suffered a major blow to my self-esteem as a writer. But I did succeed in one thing: learning a very valuable (albeit painful) lesson!
Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2016! After the Great Fail of 2012, I had taken several years off from making New Year’s resolutions. So when some friends asked me what my resolution for 2017 would be, I froze like a cow in a tractor beam. Obviously, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake I made before. I wasn’t going to promise myself I would get published. BUT! What I could promise myself was progress on the manuscript I was working on at the time – a personal narrative for young adults about my experiences with OCD, agoraphobia, and panic disorder. It was a project I started for the sole purpose of helping teens with anxiety, but as I continued on, I realized it was also something I needed to do for myself – something that would give me some much needed closure on a very difficult chapter in my life. So instead of resolving to get it published, I simply promised myself that I would finish the book. And seven months later, after hours and hours of work, that’s exactly what I did!
After several unsuccessful attempts to find a publisher for my freshly completed narrative, I realized I needed to take a break from the project altogether. I had been staring at the same words for months on end, and since I felt in my heart that I had fulfilled my resolution, and I was happy with the way my narrative turned out in spite of the rejections, I gave myself permission to shift my focus back to picture books. After all, picture books have always been my greatest passion! And after polishing up a couple of old manuscripts that had been sitting in my desk for awhile, (including the one that led to The Great Fail of 2012), I began querying literary agents for representation. Two months later, after participating in #DVPit, a Twitter event where marginalized writers are invited to pitch their story ideas to agents and editors, I was able to connect with dream agents Meg LaTorre-Snyder and Marisa Corvisiero of the Corvisiero Literary Agency. We scheduled a phone call, and when they kindly offered me representation, I gladly accepted! (And by “gladly,” I mean I was jumping up and down with excitement, grateful that nobody but my dogs were nearby to see me engage in my ugliest and happiest of ugly-happy cries). And so I signed with Meg and Marisa, thankful for the opportunity to work with the agents of my dreams, and thrilled to take the next step in my career as a writer. Of course, signing as a picture book writer wasn’t AT ALL what I had planned on doing when resolved to finish my narrative, but it sure was a happy turn of events! And I couldn’t have asked for a better surprise!
Fast forward to . . . well, NOW! It’s a new year – the dawn of 2018 – and as I return to my desk after the holiday hubbub, I’m ready to make a brand new resolution. Not to get published, of course. (Though that would be awesome!) But no, my resolution this year is simply to be the best writer that I can be. I’ll work hard, I’ll stay proactive, I’ll be creative. I’ll do everything within my power to accomplish my goals. And the rest, I hope, will fall into place.