The Truth About Getting an Agent – Part 3

Filed under: Blogging, Conferences, SCBWI, Writing

I’m back and gratefully a little smarter than I was in Part 1 and 2 of this adventure. When I left off,  I’d just joined SCBWI and even more shocking–I’d signed up for the SCBWI 2007 Eastern NY Conference.  I’m not sure what possessed me, I’m not super spontaneous on a normal day, but to make it even more of a head scratcher–the conference was on my 2-year-old’s birthday.  OK-maybe a little break, even from this cutie, wasn’t a bad thing for a mom of three boys under the age of six.  It felt important–I was compelled to go.  Of course, my super, fabulous husband has supported me from the beginning and so the term "Daddy Party Weekend" was born. LOL!

Of course the birthday was fully celebrated later and on multiple other occasions, but I still wonder how I ended up at that conference…  All I can say was something was pushing me.  Was it my Dad?  I’d like to think he was giving me a nudge in the right direction.  

I went, but I almost didn’t make it through registration.  I walked down the step into a room full of people who I didn’t know.  I was sure they knew that I was a kid-lit impersonator.  I came so close to leaving–then I saw one face that I knew…

Chris Shave and I taught together at a local Intermediate school and he was my life raft for the day.  I had someone to hang out with and to sit with at the lunch table.  Thank you, Chris.  (((((hugs)))))

****I need to interrupt this blog for an important  public service announcement…if you’re ever at a conference by yourself–with no one to hang out with.  (Example: eating room service alone at your first NY SCBWI Conference) COME FIND ME!!!!!  I know how bad that feels, so hang out with me instead.  We will now return to our regular programming.****

Once I settled down and decided to stay, my life changed forever.  I met the two most wonderful role models an aspiring children’s writer could ask for–Laurie Halse Anderson and K.L. Going.  

I didn’t take pictures at that original conference, so I’ll borrow this one from Laurie’s book tour of Chains.  If you’re interested, my very first blog post EVER was inspired by Laurie and written about her.  (ORIGINAL BLOG POST)  It took me two months of cyber stalking the Mad woman in the Forrest to get up enough courage to write that first post…but I did it.  

Later, when I saw Laurie at the book signing in the picture above, I broke into tears as I proudly told her that I’d completed the first draft of my novel and it was because of her.  I’ll never forget her sincere interest in me.  It made me feel like a legitimate writer for the first time.  I love this lady even more because she cried with me and told me more wonderful things that I’ll never forget… 

She told me to remember that she once stood where I was standing and the reason she was here was because someone else had done for her, what she had done for me.  She said that Children’s Writers are the finest people in the whole world and when I make it (and she knows I will) I will pay it forward and help other aspiring writers on their journey.  

So in case you’re wondering–I’m planning on making it.  I have something to pay forward and amazing people who believe in me.

I know–I could have died happy right after that experience, but by golly the writing gods have a purpose for me and they were hammering home their point that day.  They say lightening can’t strike twice, but I also met K.L. Going and was equally as inspired by her.  Then I discovered she was giving a very intimate local Writer’s Workshop in a couple of weeks and I could also get a 10 page one-on-one critique.  I decided to go, but first I had to start writing my book…

I had an idea.  It was a beginning.  It’s morphed and changed and grown since the summer of 1997, but I had an idea and I wrote 27 pages down and I had my critique.  It was perfect.  Kelly gave me enough thumbs up to keep me going and lots of ideas on world building and a million other things I didn’t know.  Then I began to work on it.   Kelly has a motto and its by my desk where I can see it every day.  Be yourself.  Have an Opinion. Tell the World.  My work was cut out for me.

The following year, with my first NY SCBWI conference (room service and all) under my belt, I returned to Kelly’s workshop again.  It was one year later and I purchased a double critique and sent her my first 20 pages.

*K.L. Going’s Workshop

I was nervous.  It had been a whole year and what if what I’d written stunk?  I was feeling like this…

I could have flown to the moon and back when she commented about my persistence IN CLASS!!!  She said that she’d seen a HUGE improvement in my writing since last year.  Then we talked and once again she pushed me in the right direction and I learned another extremely important lesson–the whole story can be in your head–but no one can read it unless it is on the page.  I needed to stop revising so much while writing my first draft.  I gave myself permission to just write.  

I also gave myself a couple goals.  I’d just applied to the Rutgers On-on-One Conference in October.  I didn’t know if I’d get in or not, but I was going to have a finished draft by the date of that conference.  Then when I was done revising, I was going to hire Kelly to critique my full manuscript.  

I finished the first draft AND got into Rutgers.  

The day I put the last words on the paper–I laid my head down on my desk and bawled.  I hadn’t known.  It was shocking to figure out that I hadn’t been sure I could really do it–write a whole novel.   I also realized that I had no idea how the story was going to end until I finished it.  I finally understood that this story was my emotional journey, just as much as it was my characters, and no matter what happened to this book in the future–it existed.  I existed.  I now occupied the world in a brand new way.  Everything was perfect–well until I had to learn all about that thing called revision.  But for now, lets just enjoy this magic moment. Revision is a story for another day.   But keep in mind, you don’t get an agent without being able to revise…stay tune and I can prove it to you.  Of course I learned the hard way.  *grin*   

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9 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. Kim – you are an inspiration to all of us! And I can attest to the fact that Kim is THE person to hang out with if you don't know anyone at a conference. Heck, she is the person to hang out with if you know EVERYONE. She's THAT awesome. <3 🙂

  2. Awwwww thank you. I absolutely can't wait to hang out with YOU!!!!! One week from tomorrow!!!!!!

  3. Hey there!
    I really love how Laurie received you at the conference! REally moving! 😀
    Thanks for sharing this part of your story!
    Oh and can I say that I just love the picture of your 2yo eating cake??

  4. He's pretty cute isn't he? *heart squish* Laurie is amazing!!!

  5. Your journey is so inspiring. Love how you learned to stop revising and "just write".

  6. Aww. I love reading about other writers' journeys. And I adore kiddos' birthday pics, too, which makes this post pretty darn perfect. 🙂

  7. Nan-its amazing how hard that was. It was a really good challenge for me.

    Linda-Me too…its the stalker in me LOL! And then cake….yummy. Besides, I could eat that boy up anyway. *grin*

  8. Thanks for reminding me how much fun that all was back in the day. I plan to follow you into these wild and mysterious woods sooner rather than later.

    See you in the funny pages Kim!
    Love and support

  9. Absolutely!!!! (((((hugs)))))

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