Wednesday, November 7
Guest Author Temre Beltz: Keep Writing, Keep Dreaming
I'd like to welcome middle grade author Temre Beltz to the blog today. Publishing can be a slow, heartbreaking process, even when you hit the literary lottery and get a top-notch agent. Great books don't always sell, and sometimes it takes a while before that dream-making call comes in. Temre has some encouraging words to share on this topic.
Temre is a middle-grade writer represented by agent Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Literary Agency. She lives in California with her husband Jerad, two young daughters, and a giant dog. She used to work as a lawyer (it was hard!), loves cookies (especially peanut butter), and is everyday thankful to be writing stories for kids. You can find her blog here.
Take it away Temre...
It’s been almost nine months since Janice Hardy asked me to write a guest post for her wonderful blog. I was honored and excited, but also a little nervous. I had just recently signed with amazing agent-writer Mandy Hubbard. I had been writing with the goal of publication for two years and had four manuscripts under my belt, but in the back of my mind I didn’t quite feel worthy to write something like a guest post until I had achieved something tangible. Something like that book deal I’d been dreaming of.
When Janice suggested a post scheduled for this date in early November, I breathed a little sigh of relief. I was certain it was a gift. A gift to me so that I might have time to accomplish the things that I believed would give me something to write about. But, and you guys might have already guessed what’s coming, my book deal just hasn’t arrived yet.
Way back in January I told Janice that I planned to write my post about the middle-grade voice. Even as late as this week, I still thought about doing just that. This past year I have been fortunate to have learned a great deal about the middle-grade voice through the help of a kind and generous editor (an almost “yes!” but not quite), through the course of my own extensive revisions and rewriting, and through the powerful example of studying spot on middle-grade voices in the books of authors I so admire.
There is much I’d love to share on the middle-grade voice. But I also think it’s sort of neat that it is precisely my lack of a book deal (the one thing I longed to validate me) that has given me a new sort of experience. One that I believe I am qualified to write about. So I think I’ll start there. With the waiting. And what I’ve learned.
Surprisingly, it can be summed up in one simple sentence (which, however, is not always equivalently simple to carry out!): Enjoy what we’ve been given.
When I first signed with my agent (yay, Mandy!), I think I leaped straight from the overwhelming, ecstatic, jumping up and down to wondering how quickly a book deal might happen. How long until I could be on my way to having my book on the shelves of stores. But there can be much growing in writing that doesn’t have anything at all to do with that particular process. And it can be a beautiful sort of growing; a different kind of growing; the sort of growing that may help me become a better writer even.
I still eagerly anticipate what it feels like to have deadlines, to look through copy edits with strange, new symbols, and to consider things like marketing and publicity. But I also see that right now, while in the process of waiting, writing is in its purest state. I can sit down in front of the computer with the luxury of mulling over several different story threads, writing when I feel moved to write, and not feeling the pressure of anything other than the sheer joy of playing with words, arranging them, feeling them, and experiencing the promise that one day they might fly from me and into the minds and hearts of real readers.
I have also found joy in simply becoming a tiny whisper in the writing world. I have found writer friends and critique partners. I have created my own blog and twitter account. I have gained so much through these things. And, more than anything, I have learned that–as with the book deal–the joy of being a writer is not about something quantitative like my number of followers or page views, but about something much more than that. It’s about the value of writing stories that I simply have to tell, and the value of connecting with people who I share things in common with and who take the time to comment and interact with me (such an honor!).
I can see now that the writing world is growing me slowly, helping me learn how to give my best now so that I will hopefully know how to give my best always. For some of us, our dreams unfold much more quickly, and when it happens that way it is a beautiful and inspiring thing, but for me it is happening this way. Slowly. And I am okay with that too. In fact, I think I actually needed that so I might truly learn to appreciate every milestone, savor every victory, and realize that this is an incredibly hard industry, but it is worth it. For so many reasons, it is worth it.
So please keep writing. Keep dreaming. Keep enjoying because this moment–no matter how it may seem to be–this moment where you are at right now is still a part of your dream coming true. And because of that, I do not think it can help but be beautiful. So long as we choose to notice it.