Monday, October 11, 2010

Three Years Blogging

Yup, yesterday was my official third "blogaversary" or whatever. I know, I sound so excited. But this year has been different for me, and this time I want to celebrate by just acknowledging how much I've learned and grown through this blog. So sorry, no contests or wild flailing dance parties here.

When I first started this blog, it was totally lame. No, really. It was my own place to talk about my writing, since I figured my family was getting tired of hearing all my rambling. I had a hard time keeping my goals, and somehow announcing them to the internet made me more accountable. It's not for everyone, but I'm pretty sure my first year of blogging taught me how to finish books.

Hi, I did write like 6.5 novels that year. Crazy, right? Each time it was like a miracle. I finished a book. The high of that accomplishment filled me with giddiness and motivation. If I could reliably finish books—surely I could get books published!

Of course it wasn't that easy. I was still a total noob. A noob who queried at least six months of that first year. A noob who sent out over 200 queries spanning four different projects. A noob who didn't quite understand what editing was or how much you actually had to do to make a book shine.

The first year left me realizing how far I had to go, though I learned a lot from reading writer and agent blogs. I knew I was lacking technical knowledge. I was trying to learn it. Luckily, Blogland also connected me with some amazing writers who are now close friends. We all grew together, worked hard, encouraged each other to keep going.

Then came year two. Oh, year two. Year two, curiously enough, was made up of two parts: Mad Querying and Revising My Rear Off.

The querying part was even more frustrating than year one, since I had far more interest that ultimately led to rejection. The rejections made it clear that I was still missing something on the technical side of writing, but of course didn't give me enough to actually help. I tried to figure out what was wrong, but I couldn't see it then. I was blind, in need of assistance.

And then I won a contest.

I got to send my partial to a real live agent (now my agent) for a critique, just what I needed to finally learn what was wrong with my writing! To my complete disbelief, that led to my first full request off a partial...and it's eventual rejection, heh.

But I got the crit, and, oh, was it brilliant. I totally had a light bulb moment. The book had a lot of problems, but for the first time I had a clear, positive direction for improvement, not just a vague list of things to avoid in general.

I can follow directions, and I worked my tail off, resubmitted as invited, and was given more directions. And more. And then even more.

It turned out though, because while year two was hard it ended in me signing with an awesome agent. The work paid off. It actually happened. Of course I wanted it, but part of me also worried it would never happen. I'm not going to lie, it was huge validation and still is. On hard days I cling to that knowledge, try to remember what I have instead of what I'm lacking.

Year three has been...many things.

I thought nothing could be tougher than year two—I thought I finally knew how to work hard and revise. Oh, was I wrong. Year three has been even more revision. A full rewrite of one book. Intense revisions and high hopes on another project. That point where you think you will DIE if you have to read your book again? Turns out you can read it like three or four more times after that. Sure, you lose a little bit of your soul, but the book looks really shiny.

I also learned how to officially slow down my writing process. Even through all the revisions in year two, I managed to pump out four new books. This year? Um, I haven't even finished a new project. Heck, I haven't even gotten half way through one! Sure, I rewrote a book, so I kind of wrote one, but it feels very strange to be at ZERO new books in October with little chance of finishing one by the end of the year (and practically no desire, honestly).

I'm still trying to figure out if that's a bad thing or not. In comparison to my previous years, I do feel like a bit of a failure, but at the same time I have a freaking pile of old books/ideas to fix. Why add more, you know?

And then there's been the blog explosion. Holy crap, I never expected to have so many people reading my blog! It's really only been in this last year, and I'm not sure I can express how gratefully overwhelmed I am about it. Thank you for reading, all of you, whether you've read one post or every single one since the beginning (seriously, those poor souls deserve medals).

In all honestly, you guys have kept me going this year. This has been one of the most difficult years of my life thus far, and some days it truly felt like my blog was the only thing I had going for me. Each comment made me smile, helped me remember that I had good things in my life too, even when it didn't seem like it. So thank you for reading, for commenting, for being there for me virtually. And thank you to all my real life friends I've met through blogging—you know how much I need you guys.

Part of me looks at year three and sees a big fat load of failure. I mean, if you knew the details there would be no denying that there was a lot. Like, if you were a negative person you could even say my whole year has been kind of a waste. In some darker moments I felt that way, at least.

But then another part of me stands tall. I faced a lot of those things. You know, those ones writers DREAD happening, the things you hear and then immediately pray they don't happen to you, the ones you hope to bypass with the miracle dream publishing stories, complete with double rainbows and diamond encrusted unicorns.

This year I learned that, despite it being hard, I can survive. Even when I'm emotionally spent. Even when hard work doesn't pay off. Even when I have nothing to show. I'm still standing. Still working, albeit it much slower. I still want to do this. I still think I can.

Maybe that doesn't seem like much, but it's a lot to me.

Here's to year four and whatever awaits. Hope to see you around here now an then! I will leave the porch light on, just in case.


  1. Keep that porch light on and the coffee hot. I'll bring the treats :)

    This gave me hope. It really did. I'm sorry it took you this long to learn ... but I'll take what you've learnt and apply it to my situation, if that's okay with you ;)

  2. Congratulations on three years of blogging and on making so many good friends!

  3. Oh, Natalie, I love reading your blog.

    You're right: your three blogging years have been way different from each other. They seem successful in different ways, though, each one being vital to your growth as a person and a writer. I wouldn't call them failures, despite the fact that things haven't gone exactly as you hoped or expected. :)

    What you said about standing tall because you've faced some hard things reminds me of something. Did you see the JK Rowling/Oprah interview that was on a couple of weeks ago? Rowling talked a bit about failure and hitting rock bottom. Here's a summary of what she said (from this article:

    "Rowling believes that 'failure is so important and not spoken about enough.' She said that failure is essential to life unless you are a person who is so cautious that you might not have lived at all. Failure to Rowling is the catalyst for taking risks and she noted that 'hitting rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.'"

    Not that anyone particularly WANTS to hit rock bottom, of course, but at least this is a hopeful, inspiring bit of perspective for those who have.

    So, so proud of you. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

    :) Kayla Olson

  4. Congratulations, Natalie! I'm so glad you're sticking around for year four. Even when you are discouraged, you are so positive about encouraging others. And your hard work is and will continue to pay off :)

  5. Happy three-year blogiversary! Wow, what a journey you've been on. How exciting!

  6. Happy three year blogoversary! Your blog has truly been an inspiration for me and I'm sure many, many other writers. Looking forward to what the next year will bring for you :)

  7. Happy blogaversary!

    "That point where you think you will DIE if you have to read your book again? Turns out you can read it like three or four more times after that. Sure, you lose a little bit of your soul, but the book looks really shiny."

    LOL aww... Don't worry, you definitely haven't lost any of your soul.

    What a wonderful post. I know it's been a rough year, but I'm a firm believer in karma, in rewards coming to those who work and wait, and you, missy, have done a lot of both. I think you'll get your double rainbows and your diamond encrusted unicorns, and I can't wait to be here when you do. :)

    (Though... Do you think you could spare a few diamonds to fund a fellow writer? ;P)

  8. Wow. Three years. It adds up quickly. Even though the last year has been tough, you're doing great, and you have a lot of fantastic advocates in your corner.

  9. I love reading "blogaversary" posts, especially since I only recently found your blog and have also finally started my own blog, too. Congrats on three years of blogging and the many, many, many words you put down (and edited) on the page!

  10. Congrats on three years, and I truly believe year four will be your year. You are such an inspiration and example of motivation, determination and talent. Keep going, we'll all be here cheering for you!!

  11. Well done! You've done so well it's really inspiring :)

  12. I'm amazed that someone who 'feels like a failure' can write such uplifting, inspiring and positive blogs so often - it's you who deserves the medal for the simple fact that you kept going and still keep going. Don't give up.

  13. Congrats on blogging for three years. That's a great accomplishment! I'm just trying to make it to one!

  14. You're awesome, dearie, and I'm thrilled you've been blogging for 3 years! Here's to 3 more :D

  15. That's so great! You've been blogging for three years, and look how far you've come!

  16. Happy bloggaversary! Thanks for posting this - it's neat to read about your writing journey. :)

  17. Congratulations on Three Years of blogging, Natalie!

  18. Natalie,

    I'm one of your newer readers, so I can't speak to the first two years. However, just in the short time I've been visiting your blog, you've been such an inspiration.

    Congratulations on all of that hard-fought success - with writing, publishing AND blogging

  19. I've been writing half my life--just landed my first fiction book deal this year. Worth every minute! No time spent with words is a failure :) Congrats on three years!

  20. I have good feelings about Natalie's Year Four.

  21. Congratulations! It's been quite a three years for you. Can't wait to hear about Year Four. :)

  22. Natalie, I'm a new reader of your blog, but I've really enjoyed your posts. As one who's still in his first year of trying to be a Serious Writer Person, I get a lot of inspiration from your progress. Congratulations and here's to year four!

  23. Natalie, you are amazing! Congrats on three totally successful years!

    I'm amazed that you can crank out so much work with all that you have going on in your life (ie children, husband, housework).

    Will you do a post titled "A Day in the Life of Natalie" so that I can pattern my day after yours? Do you sleep? Eat? Shower? You look healthy and normal and so not greasy!

    ***Humpf. I always feel greasy***

  24. Awesome post. And congrats! Your blog is fantastic - no wonder you have so many readers. I can't imagine that these loads of books you've been writing won't get published.

    Thanks for spelling out the good, the bad and the in-between. Very inspirational for someone who's on the very front end of all you've been going through. It's the five-week-and-two-days-iversary of my writing blog - and it's still totally lame. But you give me hope it might one day be better. ;-)

  25. Natalie, what an awesome, authentic post. I feel like there are blogs everywhere with authors pushing their books and successes. I sincerely admire your willingness to talk about all the trials preceding the success.

    I'll happily continue to read your blog when you're blogging all your exciting news. :)