Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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May 11, 2016

The Things That Keep You Going


We’re going to start this blog post with a duh moment …

Writing is hard. Getting published is hard.

Now if you can all roll your eyeballs back into place, we’ll continue. Ready?

I’ve talked many a writer friend off the “I’m going to quit” roller coaster. I’ve even had my share of “maybe I should consider becoming a barista”, moments. But I was always able to shrug those moments off and buckle down for yet another revision or another batch of queries or another manuscript.


Because I chose to look at the positive (or sometimes just less negative) steps as milestones.

Before you get the wrong idea, let me me make one thing clear … I’m not Little Miss Sunshine. I’m not that eternal optimist who will spew happy, shiny clichés. I’m not the making lemonade kinda gal (unless you pour some rum into it).

When I first set out to write, it wasn’t the idea of getting an agent or being published that kept me going. It was the challenge of learning.  Finishing that first draft of the first story idea was one of those, “holy shit I did it, I really did it” moments. Didn’t matter that it was crap, I was celebrating just getting to the end. I was holding 300-some pages that came out of my crazy brain. Positive.

My first attempt at querying agents wasn’t a whiz-bang success. Neither was the second attempt. Or the third attempt for that matter. I’m not keeping tally of the number of queries I sent out. The first requests for partials and fulls sent me into chicken dance spasms. After that it was a “cool”, mark the date on the spreadsheet, send, move on.

You guys are going to think I’m a total nut job, but what kept me going were the rejections, not the requests. I don’t mean the form rejections on queries but the manuscript rejections. Those were my gauge on how close I was getting. When I stopped seeing consistency in the feedback, I knew it was just a matter of finding that one person who would connect to my voice and story. Positive.

Now it’s confession time. I never saw the manuscripts I was working on as published books. I was hell bent on pursuing publication and didn’t doubt that it could happen, as long as I stuck to my plan. But the idea that what I’d been working on for so long could be an actual book somehow didn’t fully register. Even after my debut sold to an amazing publisher. Weird, I know.

Then this happened …


And it happened on a day when I was questioning every word coming out of my fingers on a new book project. I bottled the frustration with myself and proceeded to freak out my cats with something vaguely resembling a happy dance.

Tomorrow I’ll sit back down to write on that new project. Today, I’ll flip through one of those lovelies and remind myself that I can do it and it can happen. Hello, positive! 🙂

Your turn … do you look at the bright side? What keeps you going when you’re ready to throw the computer into the fire?

 *  *  *  *

About Orly

Photo by Lauren Ackil of Lauren Ackil Photography.

Photo by Lauren Ackil of Lauren Ackil Photography.

Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world, where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the Tall Poppy Writers. She is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.

Orly’s debut, The Memory of Hoofbeats, will be released by Forge in 2017.

You can find her on Twitter at @OrlyKonig, on Facebook at OrlyKonigAuthor, or on her website, www.orlykonig.com.

24 comments on “The Things That Keep You Going”

  1. Congratulations Orly!! What an amazing approach to your writing. I share a similar spirit (especially the addition of a toddy of rum :)) I'll never give up. It's not in my vocabulary and so I'll keep on writing the words, completing projects and continue to knock on doors. One day, it will open and my work will be welcomed 🙂 Thanks for the great post!

  2. You and I are pretty much opposites in our process, and attitude, Orly! I'm the extrovert, who pulls you out of your cave, and the golden retriever optimist who drools all over you. Oh yeah, and I DO count rejections...417 before I sold!

    I am so thrilled for you, and now I can say it publically:

    TOLD YOU SO!!!!

    This is a wonderful book, and I can't wait to hold it in my hands!

    1. I may actually have you beat with that number. But I'm not going to look. 🙂

      Yes, you told me so. Many times actually! Thanks for always believing!!!

  3. I've had those "I should just stop" moments, and recently, too, but what keeps me writing is the story in my head, the characters clamoring to tell their story. I simply can't stop writing. It's part of my psyche and has been since I was 5 and learned how to peck at my dad's manual typewriter. (I started writing the weather report, based on looking out the window...!) Reports, stories, essays, all kinds of writing followed. Words are my tools with which I create. It took me 20 years to figure out how to write an engaging novel length work of fiction, but I did it, and now have 6 novels available. With more to come. Just because the stories keep coming. Thanks for the timely post, Orly! And of course, congratulations on your new release!

    1. "Words are my tools with which I create." <-- LOVE that! So true. Thanks for stopping by, Betty!!!

  4. Congrats, Orly!! Writing and publishing is not for sissies, that's for sure. Or the negative Nellies. Eternal patience, optimism that resurfaces every time someone tries to pull you down and, oh, you need the skin of an armadillo to prevent those rejections from penetrating your heart. Best of luck with #2!

  5. Reading your blog this morning was just what the doctor ordered! I was starting to cross to the dark side. Thanks for pulling me back.

    1. Back away from the dark side!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂
      Glad the post helped. Believe me, we've all been there. And most of us still go there from time to time. Find those little things that keep you on track and keep them close. You can do it!

  6. Thanks Orly for a hopeful post. It seems we all have to go through the process, so we might as well just fasten our seat belts and enjoy the ride.

    1. And we'll go through the process many times. It doesn't get easier, just different. Guess that part doesn't sound as hopeful, does it?! But it actually is ... Keep with it and focus on the things that help you keep with it. 🙂

  7. I have a notebook I call my 'spaghetti' book. In it, I list every query, pitch, submission, entry I send out. And like throwing spaghetti at a wall - some of it will stick. You just have to throw more spaghetti. And every time I hesitate before hitting send, I mutter, "I have nothing to lose," and visualize some crazy pasta smacking the editor/agent/judge. I smile to myself and move on. When I get a rejection, I use a black sharpie to cross out that entry and when I get any kind of request, I highlight it in orange and when it gets published, I circle it and ring it with bright blue stars. My spaghetti book is almost full and there's plenty of black marks, but there's bright happy, colorful stars, too. It's a neverending process, but I can flip back through the book and see how far I've come.

    1. That sounds so cool! Way more fun than the excel spreadsheets I used when I was querying. Love the idea of being able to flip through the notebook and see your successes.

  8. Thanks for sharing these motivating words, Orly, and congratulations on your upcoming publication. I like your sense of humor, too--there's a POSITIVE to keep one going.

    1. Thanks, Rick. Gotta have the sense of humor. Life is too overwhelming without it. 🙂

  9. Congratulations! And thank you for reminding us to persevere. I've found even publication doesn't drive away the demons of doubt in my brain. I face it with each new project.

    1. I don't think the demons ever go away, they just change. But we hang in there, don't we? 🙂

  10. I needed your post on this particular day. This morning I received a reply from my dream publisher that they'd be VERY interested in my book (which I've been plugging away on for nearly a decade) IF I can reduce the word count by about 40 percent! Impossible? Maybe not. I guess I'll just make a copy of my original, get out the scalpel (or sledge hammer), and get busy.

    1. That's fantastically positive!!!!!
      But don't make any changes until you have a backup copy and a backup of the backup!! Then do a read through and make notes where you can tighten.
      Good luck with the editing and resubmitting. 🙂

  11. "The challenge of learning" and the "Holy shit, I did it!" Yeah, that's good enough for me. It sounds crazy, but my fictional characters have enriched my life. I wouldn't trade that sense of joy and wonder for anything. Not all readers like my books--but hey, I told my characters' stories the way they asked me to, and I'm better off for the experience.

    Thanks for the touch of inspiration, Orly. Pinned & shared. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Linda.
      I love what you said about your characters enriching your life. I feel the same about mine. I learn something about myself through each character I write. It's why I keep writing. 🙂

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