Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What I've Learned at the Loft: You Can't Jump the Line

I haven't blogged in a while. Certain shifts have happened that keep me from blogging. One, conversations have moved to twitter, tumblr and facebook. And I like to be where the community is. So, I'm splitting my time between all the e-stuff I love. Two, this blog is a little antiquated, and I know I need to move it to a nice and clean author website. (Which I'm not quite ready to do, because of number three...) Three, I've launched a writing community which is awesome and does a lot of good, but sometimes sucks up my time. Oh, and four, I'm starting to query agents again after finishing a revision based on agent feedback. Woo-hoo for me! That's a full-time job of sending emails, refreshing my emails, crying a little, and then refreshing again. :)

But I am still here, and thought that I might share with you guys some of the things that I have learned from building an in-real-life community.

Plus, the TED talk I was going to blog about today REFUSES to embed. :)

So, here's the first post in the series, What I've Learned at the Loft:

You can't jump the line.

If you are one of our cats, you CAN jump the turkey-leg-line.

Let me clarify a bit. I've seen people get publishing deals in a short amount of time. But mostly, those people had a very steep learning curve. They responded well to critiques, made adjustments, and rebounded (from crits or rejections) very quickly.

I no longer think that this business is about perseverance. Or maybe it's not solely about perseverance.

It's about quickly learning when something isn't working and making adjustments. 

Since I have founded a writing community whose members include published authors, some writers have approached me and asked me to "get them an agent." (None of these writers attempting to jump the line wanted to stay and join the community.)

Eeek! I'm not agented myself. I don't have a book published. And even though writers at the Loft have found inroads in publishing because they hobnob with authors further along in the journey than themselves, those Loft writers have also put in the time to critique, give back and support the community.

You can't just show up and jump the line. You need to try something and when it fails, you make adjustments. When a crit shows you where your ms is less than stellar, you make adjustments by revising. When you get a critique that doesn't jive with where your ms is going, you make adjustments by finding a new crit partner. When you query agents and don't get the response you wanted, you get more feedback on your query and you (all together now) make adjustments.

Sometimes it seems like people were overnight successes, or that they were in the right place at the right time. They probably were in the right place at the right time, because they paid attention to what worked and followed that. They made the right adjustments.

What is the hardest adjustment you've had to make in your writing career? An adjustment of expectations? An adjustment of what success looks like? Tell me!


  1. I think "You’ve Gotta Make Adjustments" is going to be a big country song one day. :-)

  2. Ha. You and Ray should take it on the road!

  3. Yup, I started writing really believing my first ms was going to be published. It was amazing...amazingly terrible!!! So the last several years I've been buckling down and trying my best to learn all I can. And...I'm pretty sure I've gotten somewhat better! =) And it was nice to hear from you again!

  4. Biggest adjustment for me? The number of revisions necessary to get my manuscript to a point where an agent was willing to sign me. And then the number of revisions necessary to get my agent to agree to start shopping it around.

  5. Yes, I agree that there are people who aren't (at least not presently) going any farther with their writing, not because they won't keep writing and subbing, but because they draw a line at how much revising/changing/ADJUSTING they'll do. Good post.

  6. It's hard to say. Writing is a series of adjustments. Right now I am trying to adjust to non fiction in a picture book. The last big adjustment was a change in the title of the time travel romance I wrote. My editor informed me there were way too many books called Second Chances. I held a contest to choose a new name. It's hard to part with a beloved title. From now on I will title search on Google and Amazon first.

  7. I love this post, Heather, though I know I'm late reading it. It's like the idea of the "overnight success" -- no one is an overnight success. Anyone who's an overnight success has worked their butt off to get to that point. It's all about working hard, and adjusting to feedback, and working hard some more. <3