Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Another Step Closer


The old storyteller tradition isn’t around much anymore. We’ve evolved from villages gathering around a communal fire and listening to stories of history and gods to putting those stories and so many more on real or electronic paper and letting people from far outside our community share them.

This writing life is a long one. It can be ponderous at times, fraught with perils such as Doubt, Writer’s Block, and Lack of Inspiration.

Every hazard, though, can be overcome by sheer determination. Some call it stubbornness. Some call it not knowing when to quit. Some call it persistence.

I like the last one. Reminds me of the story Hank Phillippe Ryan told at the Writers’ Institute this past spring, the one about how her editor loved her story, but the board shot it down. She rewrote it, and it did sell. Same with Stephen King, how he tossed one of his first manuscripts when no one was interested in it, and his wife rescued it and told him to keep going.

It’s tough, though, to keep going when you feel like you’ve done so much work, learned so much about the craft, followed the advice of the heavyweights like Donald Maass and Anne Lamott and Stephen King, spent years polishing and honing and editing and writing. You belong to writers’ groups, have a critique partner or three, even go to writing conferences once or twice a year.

And nothing happens. Crickets. Queries sent into cyberspace fall into a cyber black hole. Live pitches to agents fail to garner material requests. Contest entries and pitch parties are nothing more than distractions. (confession time: not my experience. I’ve gotten more positive results than that.)

So you take your precious manuscript, the one you’ve sweated and worried over, the one you’ve edited to within an inch of its life, and chuck it into a dark, dusty corner of that desk you never use. You look at the shelf of writing books, and wonder how many knickknacks those same shelves could hold. Maybe you could fit your entire state bird plate collection on them. Or remove the shelves and hang your grandmother’s memory quilt on the wall. That should cover it.

I think most writers have been there. Maybe not to the reject-all-writing level, but we’ve wondered, more often than not it sometimes seems, why the hell we subject ourselves to this torture. I mean, if a kid loves football, plays throughout elementary and middle school, takes private lessons, and never gets picked for the varsity team even though he always tries out, he’s wasted all that time, energy, and money. He may as well put that energy into something more achievable, like fishing.

The thing with writers, though, is we can’t stop. If we stop writing, we go a little insane. All those stories in our heads just build and build until our head explodes and all those stories get splattered over everything in sight.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Persistence. Some writers are blessed/cursed with it. It’s not that we don’t know when to give up, it’s that we can’t give up.

Each small success is another step closer. Finish a short story? One step. Send the story out? Another step. Actually get it published? A big step. Finish a whole novel? Another step. And we continue on our journey. A short story writer’s goal might be inclusion in an anthology or publication in a widely-read periodical. A novel writer’s goal is to get that novel into the hands of readers, onto the shelves at Barnes and Noble, maybe even onto the racks at Walmart or Target.

So many steps to get there. Some writers are fortunate enough to get there faster than others, but persistence is the key. And persistence does pay off. See, if you got this far, you’re persistent πŸ˜€

I am fortunate to know many wonderful writers. It’s amazing how small the writing community seems, yet so far-ranging and encouraging. One of my writing friends mentioned a pitch contest I’d never heard of, so I figured, what the heck. I’d already tossed in for Pitch Wars and missed, but I did get some good feedback.

So, I did PitMad this week and the pitch contest my friend told me about. And I got positive responses from multiple agents.

Another step closer.

I got an R&R request from another agent, along with a lot of good feedback.

Another step closer.

I’m going to get there. Step by step.


Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen names: J. M. Holmes, J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, two chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

9 thoughts on “Another Step Closer

  1. Great post, Julie. Things don’t happen fast in this business, and I think many writers are shocked at that discovery (as well as how much work is involved). It takes huge amounts of personal grit and determination. It’s a good thing writing is so fun and addicting, or there would be no books at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on your achievements, Julie. I’m completely with you on those steps. One at time. I think a lot of writers have starry-eyed dreams about the writing life when they begin, but as you said it’s a lot of hard work, persistence and overcoming doubt. We all have those “I should just toss in the towel” moments, but then we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back to doing the thing we love. And we get rewards along the way. Any accolade is to be treasured. I’m glad all your steps continue to move you forward πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mae! Yep, those starry-eyed dreams will get you every time, because real life isn’t so easy as the fairy tales would make one think (although the real Grimm tales aren’t as happy or go-lucky as Disney wants to believe). As Dory would say, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie, wow you not only seem to be taking steps but great leaps. To get a request for a read and then ‘Pitch Wars’ and MitPad (sorry never heard of this!) This post says the truth of the daily battle for writers, the persistence needed to keep going. As with so much else in live, tiny steps at a time. Encouraging uplifting post…I’ll go and read Stephen King again!πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s a Revise and Resubmit request. Agents will make them when the manuscript isn’t quite “there”, but they see potential in the writing and the story, and may even have an idea of which publisher would be interested in it. They feel it needs to be tweaked a bit before they actually take it on. The agent will usually offer suggestions on what to revise/tweak. This also lets the agent know how willing a writer is to revise the story.

      So, an R&R is like a half-step between an outright rejection and “the call”.

      Liked by 1 person

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