I’m thrilled to welcome Andrea Stewart to the blog today. We met via AbsoluteWrite, as she was a hopeful through this year’s Angry Robot Open Door month, and so she joined our online writing group. I’m even more thrilled to say that Andrea has just won FIRST PLACE in the quarter finals of this year’s Writers of the Future contest, having her work judged anonymously by the likes of Time Powers & Larry Niven. Please welcome Andrea to the blog as she discusses perseverance.
Sometimes I think you have to be a little bit crazy to want to be a writer. Instead of spending your spare time playing video games, running around parks, or going out with friends, you type words on a keyboard. These words, taken together, may or may not be any good. And even if they’re good, they may not reach the level of great, and may or may not ever get published. Or read. It’s a lot of time and emotion to invest in something that might not pan out.
I ended up trunking my first manuscript, after a long period of querying. About a year ago, as I was working on my second manuscript (about a young woman who must balance her addiction to blood magic with saving a country and the people that she loves), I came up with an ill-conceived plan.
I like to write epic fantasy, and I like the sweeping, globe-trotting aspect of it, which means I tend to write long. Although I got partial and full requests for my first manuscript, agents expressed misgivings about the length. I thought if I could sell a couple short stories to pro markets before I started submitting my second manuscript, then I could put those credits on my query letter and ease those misgivings. It made sense to me at the time!
What I didn’t realize was that there aren’t a lot of professional markets out there for short speculative fiction. And since I was writing stories that stretched past the 5,000 word mark, I had even fewer to submit to.
I tried them anyways and was summarily rejected. Each time I wrote a new story, I thought it would be the one to get published, only to be proven wrong. And then I wrote The Story—the one that my writers’ group loved, the one that just seemed to have the right flow and rhythm. I submitted it to F&SF, and received a kind personal rejection. Clarkesworld: form reject, two days. Daily Science Fiction: another kind personal rejection, expressing that it was a hard decision.
The Writers of the Future contest was always on my peripherals, but I never submitted there. There was something intimidating about the contest aspect of it. But I submitted the story in June, not expecting much after the prior rejections, and resolved to self-publish it if I didn’t hear back.
In November, I got the call that my story was a finalist. On December 10, I got the call that my story had won first place.
I can’t completely express how overwhelmingly exciting this is for me (so exciting that I’m abusing adverbs!). This is the first time something I’ve written will be available in bookstores. It will be published this summer. It will be read.
So maybe writers are just a little bit crazy. The kind of crazy that doesn’t care as much about the piles of unread writing, about the time and the emotional investment, the long nights and frenzied drafting. Because getting that one “yes” can make it all worth it. It did for me.
Andrea is by day a contract specialist for California and by night a speculative fiction writer. We haven’t bullied her into getting a Twitter (yet), but you can find out more about her and her writing on her website. I have no doubt we’ll see plenty more from Andrea in the future!