Fools Rush In

Yesterday, I finished the last round of micro edits for my YA superhero novel before I start querying. Now I’ve just got to rewrite my first couple of chapters and spiff up my query letter, which is still a rough draft at this point. The goal is to start submitting to agents by late October or early November.

It’s crazy to think that four years ago, I was just feeling out the querying process for a much different version of the same book.

I went through a few different versions of my query letter and a list of agents, but none of it panned out. For a long time, I kept pushing through, kept pushing more submissions out–Winston Churchill, never surrender, you know?

WC FieldsBut eventually, I realized there was a difference between greeting the proverbial drawing board like an old friend and just plain quitting. Sometimes, yeah, you need to be hard-headed and thick-skinned and plow through the let-downs.

Other times, you need to sit down, shut up, and admit when something isn’t working.

Realizing that didn’t make scrapping that draft of my book any more pleasant. But looking back, I’m weirdly grateful for it. I feel like I’m a stronger writer now, and while the general spine is the same, my story and series have evolved a heck of a lot since then.

Really, it’s just a matter of knowing what battles are worth picking–and when. If you find yourself needing to take some time, step back, and approach your story from a new angle, consider Maggie Stiefvater and Eric Kripke.

Maggie Stiefvater is the bestselling author of the Shiver series and The Scorpio Races, among other things. She also wrote The Raven Boys–my favorite book in the history of the universe, and the first book in a planned quartet.

The interesting thing is, she wrote the first draft of The Raven Boys when she was nineteen years old–at least twelve years ago. She’s mentioned before that she realized she didn’t yet have the writing tools necessary to tell that story and juggle multiple POV characters, so she moved on. She still loved the story and carried it around inside her, but she wasn’t ready to tell it yet. It was a matter of timing.

So she waited, worked on some other projects, and came back to it when she was ready. And I have to say, the result is pretty amazing.

If that success story doesn’t sell you, there’s also Eric Kripke, creator and longtime showrunner of Supernatural. Before he came up with the Winchester brothers and the Impala, he set the creatures and cases against an anthology backdrop. After that, he planned to tell the stories through a tabloid reporter investigating it all. Then it was the story of Sam and Dean Harrison, raised by their aunt and uncle after their mother died and their father left.

The story went through loads of different versions–it was pitched and rejected and reworked for ten years. And it ended up being a wizard show that’s still going strong in its tenth season. If the story about the tabloid reporter had been greenlit, the Winchesters would never have been born.

So by all means–if you’ve really examined what you’re doing and feel like it’s the best it can be, go for it. But if the timing seems to be wrong, maybe there’s a reason for that.

A time and a season, and all that good stuff.

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4 thoughts on “Fools Rush In

  1. I cannot love this post enough. Supernatural and Maggie Stiefvater are two of my FAVOURITE THINGS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. I feel so inspired by this!! I knew about the origins of SPN but not that about Maggie Stiefavter! Omg, that gives me so much hope! I write stuff and just feel like I haven’t done the idea any justice at all and I feel absolutely kicked by my own book. But maybe it’s just not ready yet? Maybe I’m rushing. And it’ll all come later. Oh this is wonderful and happy news. I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH. And good luck with your querying! The query trenches suck…but getting through is gold.
    Thanks for stopping by @ Notebook Sisters!

    • Ha, between SPN and Maggie Stiefvater, you can’t go wrong. I was insanely encouraged when I learned this stuff, too. Especially because I’ve got this one particular story I’ve been wanting to write for a while now–but it’s never felt quite right. Something’s still missing. Reading about the initial versions of The Raven Cycle made me realise that it’s not just okay to focus on other projects, it’s maybe even for the best.

  2. Oh my gosh, I honestly had no idea that Maggie Stiefvater wrote The Raven Boys at the age of 19. That makes me SO inspired and so happy and all kinds of excited. That’s one of the most motivating things I’ve ever heard. (I’m on “The Dream Thieves” and I’m in love with this series. I desperately want to talk with you about it sometime!) Thank you so much for sharing! ♥

    • Right? Knowing that makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER about my chances in life. It’s cool to look back at her teenage writing she’s shared, then to look at where she is now. Very inspiring.

      And I’m so pumped to hear you’re loving the series! Discussion is a must. These are my favourite books ever, so I’m basically always dying to talk about them.

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