What is this Tinderbox Society all about?
JOURNEYS + TIPS
It's a community blog featuring some of the women I've met along the way - and all of the women I am continuing to meet - who are JUST LIKE YOU!
They're moms, grandmothers, teachers, accountants, small business owners, artisans and...
women who've found themselves burnt out or shut up at some point in their lives and they're sharing their journeys and tips about
finding their voice
expressing their passions
and writing their way back to their creative core.
These are their stories. These are their voices. They're daring. Taking risks. Expressing everything inside and inspiring everyone around them.
They're gonna blow your hair back.
Tinderbox Society's FIRST GUEST BLOGGER is Susan Sands.
Susan writes romantic women's fiction and blogs at Sweet Home Alpharetta. I met Susan at an event for another author at Foxtale Book Shoppe (one of my favorite places on earth) and we hit it off talking about kids and writing and writing and kids and how are you finding time to write?? Her post today makes me take a deep breath and find gratitude for one of the toughest lessons for anyone with a plan...waiting. I'm not a very pleasant person when I'm waiting. I'm going to try to be more like Susan!
If Susan's story rings a bell for you, leave a comment for her. Welcome her. Cheer her on!
It's what Tinderbox is all about. Celebrating the truth inside each of us and creating something unique and perfectly flawed.
Tell it, Susan!
My name is Susan Sands, and I’m a failure. Well, not exactly a failure. I’m just not a published author of a full-length novel after seven long years of trying unsuccessfully the old-fashioned way. Seven years ago there wasn’t a new-fashioned way to speak of. So much has evolved in the industry since I began this journey that I’m not even certain what I want anymore from this dream of mine.
Having someone tell me I was good enough, I mean, someone who knew what he or she was talking about was my first goal. My name in print on the cover of a book, by a real publisher, was my true objective starting out. Money? Yeah, I thought I’d get some of that too.
How it all started:
I woke up at forty years old and decided that I wanted to write. Didn’t we all at some point? I bought my first laptop, craft books on fiction writing at my local Barnes and Noble, and then I figured I should attend a first novel writer’s conference way out in California, having no idea how much opportunity to learn I had so close to home. But as fate and luck would have it, there were real live agents in California and one of them wanted my book when it was finished!
She suggested I first join my local chapter of RWA, Georgia Romance Writers, and the national chapter as well. I think I’d gotten online and done that within the first fifteen minutes of meeting her.
I was fifteen thousand words in on my first Southern romantic women’s fiction novel. But having this agent fervently waiting for my book (ha!) spurred me to write like the wind. I finished the book and had it professionally edited. I printed out the three hundred plus pages and sent it to Cali. And waited. Don’t hate me, but that well-respected agent offered me representation on my first submission. I believed I had a gift, y’all!
After some revisions, she shopped my novel through New York City. I waited. No dice. Looking back, I realize now how truly unworthy of publication that first book was. Why did she offer representation? I believe she saw something in me that she thought would eventually bear fruit. But not yet.
I wasn’t mature enough as a writer; my work wasn’t ready, which was a terrible thing. Fact: Sending out unfit material hurts your good name. If you’ve tried to get an agent lately, you realize how hard that can be. I had a tough decision to make. Keeping an agent who wasn’t a good fit vs. taking time to grow and develop my craft, and when I was ready, try and find an agent who was a better fit. It was a tough breakup on my part.
When in the thick of it, we never think we’re not good enough. That bird in hand is very hard to let go. I wrote new books. I won a few contests. I found a new agent. That book didn’t sell either. Again.
Failure. The burning desire and confidence that I could succeed dimmed. The first goal was achieved. Someone did tell me I was good enough. They even offered representation, twice.
There are those who tell us that selling a book is a combination of good writing and storytelling, who you know, hitting the right editor at the right time with the right project, etc. I truly believe it’s mostly fitting a great story with an editor who falls in love with it and connects with the author’s style. If you can get them to read it initially. I still have a few no-responses, which baffles me.
I’ve continued to write, though not with quite the same thrilling anticipation of submitting the next project to my agent. Thankfully, she still represents me, bless her. I’m wiser now, knowing this time could also bring frustration and defeat, but I do remain hopeful. I don’t thing anyone continues writing with the belief that they will ultimately fail.
The true beauty of this journey has been the people I’ve met along the way, both at conferences and through both GRW and RWA. Only other writers understand the nature of rejection and the growth that we undergo, whether we are novices or multi-published best sellers. And there are always more highs and lows waiting around the next corner.
Best to everyone currently on submission with agents and editors. It’s a tough wait!
tinderbox society blog
Life lived from your Creative Core.