My Turning Point as a Writer

Almost two years ago, I attended the SCBWI Annual Conference. The truth is that I made myself go. It’s a large conference, and I generally prefer the smaller, more work-shoppy ones. Also, crowds overwhelm me. But off I went because I had so many dear friends going. In particular, the YA Muses would all be there. We’d gotten really close over the course of the previous months.  We all clicked in our dedication and hunger to get published. Things were starting to heat up for a few of the Muses, and LA was going to be our celebration. Our pow-wow.

I ended up submitting a selection of pages to the optional critique offered at that conference. Again, I wasn’t going to do this. I have a terrific group of friends who are astute readers. I also work with writing mentors, who I knew would help me get my manuscript in the best shape it could be in before I queried agents. My plan was to start querying two months after the conference, but I signed up for the critique anyway. I had never walked away from one without some kind of takeaway, even if it was just getting to know another person in the writing community.

That critique changed my life. I met an editor who was very excited about my work. An incredible person who set me on my way, not only by indicating interest in seeing the full manuscript, but by nominating me for the Sue Alexander Award. 

I left that 8:30 am meeting utterly stunned. I don’t remember how I ended up outside the Century Plaza Hotel, where the huge air-conditioning units churned away. It was just the first place I could find. I don’t remember calling my husband and trying (and failing) to tell him what had happened coherently…. Guys, I want to give you a sense for how unreal this moment was, but it’s so hard to do. I hope you feel it one day if you’re a writer or anyone chasing after a dream. That morning, I’d gotten one solid handhold on that dream and I knew I could wrestle it down.

It was my turning point.

After several years in the writing chase, I’d come to know a good share of people. A good share of great people. The writers I know love to help one another. It’s truly a special community. Word of my critique got out during the rest of the conference. People told me to get querying. That I shouldn’t make another move without an agent. People offered to introduce me to their agents. I’m going to skip forward a bit here. The result is that within the week, I did have an agent. A great one. And, skipping ahead another six weeks, I had a book deal for a trilogy.

Those of you working on manuscripts: this post is for you. Amazing things happen. I’m proof of that. Keep writing. Get to those conferences and share your work.

Your turning point is out there.


Posts like these are so encouraging.

When you spend so much time chasing a dream, you can't help but wonder if your energy is being wasted. If it was meant, why didn't it happen right away? But work, diligence and persistence do pay off, as this post goes to show.

Thank you for this reminder. Now I'll get back to revising my MS. Maybe one day it will see the light of day. Even if it doesn't, I plan to enjoy this journey as best as I can.

Veronica, you are right. This post is FOR ME. I have never been to a writer's conference simply because I am intimidated by the thought of being around real, live, breathing agents, editors, and published authors. But last night and this morning, I was thinking how it's time I got myself out there. I've been networking with authors through blogs/email for a couple of years now, but I have yet to meet any of them face-to-face.
Two other confirmations came to me this morning, besides your post. One, from John Maxwell's book, Success One Day at a Time: To succeed, follow the hot poker principle: Attend great events (just one item on the list). And, two, a proverb from an email sent by a friend: "A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; 
He rages against all wise judgment." So your post was my third confirmation that it's time for me to get myself to a conference.
Thank you so much.

I second Angela above and think of a famous Mark Twain quote: "The harder I work, the luckier I get!"
Very nice!

You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you! Not for the tears, necessarily, but the encouragement!

My story is remarkably similar and involves the SCBWI winter conference 2011 :) Conferences can be an amazing turning point and career booster.

Okay, so I'm gonna geek out a moment here. You actually brought a tear to my eye, Veronica. I attended my first 'big girl panties' writer conference in NYC last month for SCBWI. I had never done anything like this before, and being a serious newbie writer, to say I was terrified would be a vast understatement. I left there with so much encouragement. It was overwhelming. Because of the people I met, whether they were writers or illustrators, the guest speakers, the keynotes, the all encompassing love of children's lit...I was truly at a loss for words. I can only hope next time I will have the brevity to submit my work.

Thank you so very much for this post.

So inspiring, I can almost hear the air-conditioning units churning in the back ground. Wonderful post. And you well and truly deserved your turning point.

Wow! What an incredible story - and everything happened so fast! Congratulations.

Wow, guys. I'm so glad that this story resonated and encouraged you. It really is true... Work hard, and get out there and you'll get to your Turning Point, too. Go get 'em!

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