The Upside of a Setback

This post was almost titled, “mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be writers” but I hate to be discouraging about something that deep down, I love. In this blog, I’ve been giving glimpses into the themes of the book I’m working on. Today, I want to give you a glimpse into the writing process. “Process” makes what I’m doing sound logical and planned. It’s not. Here’s why.

In October, I got sick. Very sick. With kidney stones, which, in case you are wondering, are NOT recommended. Sickness was an interesting experience, at least after the agonizing pain had been muted with narcotics and I stopped thrashing around and moaning and generally alarming everyone. Sickness stopped me dead in my tracks and landed me in bed. Rushing around to do errands, keep house, run the family schedule and working? Off the table.

I had been pushing myself very hard to get my book proposal completed. I had flown to New York to meet my agent, rainbows sprouting and birds chirping as I skipped along, thinking I had finished the bulk of the proposal, and all that remained was polishing the marketing section. Then, BOOM. I got run over by the Mack Truck of unexpected news, which was I need to write a third sample chapter, from the heart of the book. The second piece of unexpected news, although it wasn’t really news as much as stating the obvious: I don’t have a platform. I need to get one if an editor in New York is going to buy my book. By “platform,” I mean, readership in the thousands who are hanging on my every word, preferably in the national media. I need to be writing in the national media about the themes in The Houseover, before I can get a book published.

This is a chicken-and-egg situation. Your book can get you attention in the national media, but to get a book deal, you need to prove that your idea appeals by already being out in mainstream media writing about the subject. Today, I recognize this as true and necessary, but at that moment, I felt like a fighter who had taken a left hook to the jaw. I might have even seen stars.

Then, BOOM. The next day, I got hit with the Mack Truck of sickness. It was a knock-out.

Days of enforced rest showed me that I need to stop rushing. This book has already been a longer road than I expected, and if you ask me in my most impatient moments, it’s too long. Once I know what I want (which sometimes takes years to clarify), I want it NOW. Anyone who was around when I met and married Andy in 15 months knows that I have this quality. This is my third book proposal, and I know it’s good. I know what I have. I want everything to happen, and I want it to happen now.

In mythology, there are gatekeepers who stop you on your quest. They throw up an obstacle. Your job as the heroine is to overcome it, in order to prove that you a) are worthy of the quest and b) you really want what you are seeking. I am no Greek goddess, but I get my own storyline. We each have many of these stories in our lives.

So , I am working on a blog post to submit to the New York Times, and of course it’s a long shot, but I have to try. More importantly, I want to try. I know this is part of the process. And I will cheerfully write another sample chapter, in its own sweet time.




5 Responses to "The Upside of a Setback"

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  1. Karen Hirata

    November 8, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Laura, as Brene Brown says, you are daring greatly, putting yourself out there (her first book was actually self published). You go girl, you can do it. And if the NY publishers won’t take note when you are finished, the age of the internet has changed things. There are other publishing options out there and while getting a contract with a known publisher would be awesome, it isn’t the only way to do things these days. Word of mouth on the internet can be a powerful tool.

  2. Clara Tomaz

    November 8, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Daring and risking is the only way of succeeding!!! If you believe in your book, you’ll make others believe in it, too! The road there might be more complicated than you anticipate, maybe nothing will come out of the New York Times blog, you’ll have to keep on believing, and daring, and risking! If you look at it from another perspective, it’s a very exciting time of your life, not everyone is given to have one…or maybe, not everyone chooses to have one! Don’t expect too much form any single move you’ll do to have this book noticed and published, but something will come out sooner or later.. probably in the form of a surprise!
    Good luck, Laura, I will be by your side!!!!

  3. lauratiebert

    November 9, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Karen and Clara, thank you both! Karen, I admire Brene Brown and your comment makes me think I should pick up her new book. Thank you. And Clara, you are a true friend. As much as you are on my side and show it, I am on yours and hope you know it.

  4. Tiffany L

    November 15, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I feel so bad and so out of the loop – I had no idea you were sick. I’m so glad you’re feeling better.

    I’m not a writer, obviously, but it seems the life of a writer is two steps forward, one step back. You are (possibly) slowly but surely making your way on this book’s journey. I support you 100% and hope you know how many of your friends are rooting for you, always.

    I think you’re an amazing person with many more strengths than weaknesses – you should try pointing those out in your blog!



  5. Kristen

    November 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Oh, L, I had no idea you had been so sick! Oh, you poor thing, that had to have been rough. Glad you are back to yourself again!

    I know all about impatience, so I feel your pain. But you can grow an audience, and you can continue to tell your story, be it in book or other formats. Just keep writing, and posting!


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