Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blog Chain: My favorite mistake

Rebecca started the blog chain this time with the following question:

What is the best mistake you've made so far in your journey as a writer? How has that mistake helped you grow :)?

Easy. I've actually blogged about this before, but I removed the post because it gave the impression that I needed professional mental help. (And anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis already knows that goes without saying.)

Here is the revised version of that post:

Garth Brooks once sang about God's greatest gifts being unanswered prayers.

I don't believe that. I believe God responds to every prayer. But our puny human brains don't always understand what He's telling us. Nor do we have the patience to accept those answers with grace.

I tell the kids in my religious ed class that one of the most important things to pray for is discernment, to recognize the way God is working in their lives.

This is something I do on a regular basis, and most of the time, I'm satisfied with what He shows me. But there was one instance in my life as a writer that left me scratching my head and saying, "God, why?"

A couple of years ago, I dusted off a project I'd put on the shelf and did a major rewrite. I added a character, changed some of the plot and really thought I had a winner.

One night after I began querying, I asked God for a sign. If He truly wanted me to be a writer, if He truly wanted me to seek publication for this story, He needed to send me a sign.

The next day I received a request for a partial from an agent whose blog I follow religiously. (Pun intended.)

Of course, I saw this as an answer to my prayer. Excited, thankful, elated, I sent my partial off and waited for a response.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Every morning, I'd open my inbox with my eyes barely wide enough to see whether or not this agent had an answer for me. And then one day it came: Sorry...It's not something we can handle at this time.

"What? But God...You...I...How...?" Oh, it hurt so much I stopped querying altogether.

But that rejection made me take a closer, more critical look at my work. I became involved in a larger writing community, received a lot of feedback from other writers (and an agent) and considered some tips that might make me a better writer.

Despite being an old dog (come back on Tuesday and we'll celebrate my old-doggyness together), I learned some really cool new tricks.

I took that project and once again rewrote and revised and rewrote and revised and then I revised it again. I'm now at the point where I'm seriously embarrassed by the initial product I was peddling.

I'm sure this might sound strange but I owe a huge thanks to Rachelle Gardner for rejecting my partial back then.

Without that rejection, I would not be able to look at my manuscript with the sense of excitement, pride and confidence I now feel. I finally believe my manuscript is ready. (Now, if only I could convince her to take another look at it...)

That's my best mistake. Check out what Eric said about his best mistake, and visit Christine tomorrow to read about hers.

What's yours?


Mandy said...

Wow, great post Kat! And I LOOOOVE Cheryl Crow ;)

I feel like I could've written this post myself. It mirrors my own "why" moments. I'm always looking for signs and trying to decipher the events of my life. Unfortunately, I haven't had much luck there. But determination is the most important thing. Don't give up on yourself or your faith in what you're doing! :D

Cole Gibsen said...

Great post! I, too, believe that God has a plan and a reason for everything.

Christine Fonseca said...

I love this post - and I couldn't agree more!

Rosslyn Elliott said...

My head is so foggy from my current existence in writers' limbo that I can't tell what's a mistake and what's good. :-)

I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Kat Harris said...

Hang in there, Rosslyn, things will fall into place for you soon.

Michelle McLean said...

lol I now have that song in my head :) Wonderful post, and I totally agree with you. Sometimes you just have to go on faith :)

Eric said...

First off, thanks for sharing the vid. I love accoustic performances, where you can clearly hear the voices and instruments.

On topic, this is a great response Kat. I really like your point about discernment. Whether we're looking for that in God's plan or asking why life hands us one thing over another, we often don't find clarity; we impose our own sense of blindness. It's great though, that out of that you were able to keep moving forward. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

OH man, I could have written this post, Kat.

I soooooo did the same thing. Gosh, QUITE embarassed at what I'd queried until I figured out what I was doing.

I learned soooo much, thought, because it led me to a crit group, who took me under their wing and helped me.

Now, I have an agent and have written several more novels. So, yeah, it sucks when you make the mistakes, but oh....they can really set you on the right path, that's for sure.

So, write on, sister. Woo-Hoo.

B.J. Anderson said...

Thanks for the music video! And this was a great, inspiring post.

Linda Sandifer said...

Thanks for sharing, Kat. I think it's something all writers can relate to and have probably experienced more than once in their writing careers.

Sandra said...

Happy birthday, and glad to hear that your mistake made you a better writer!

Shaun Hutchinson said...

That song was the one that made me a Sheryl Crow fan for life. And this is a fantastic post.