The Downs (and Eventual Ups) of Making It Past that Debut Writing Year

What’s it like to be a trending new writer? We like this self-examination of one new “killing it” writer’s perspective.

by Christina Soontornvat

“You’re on fire!”
“Rockstar!”
“You’re killing it!”

Those are the types of comments that came across my social media feed last fall as I posted screenshots of my most recent book deal announcements.

Due to publishing’s funky and unpredictable timing, I had back-to-back announcements two weeks in a row: one for my middle grade nonfiction about the Thai Cave Rescue and another for my new chapter book series, Diary Of An Ice Princess (Scholastic, 2019).

To the outside world, I was “on fire.”

Inside, it felt like I was finally crawling out of a hole.

Flashback to four years earlier: I had been overjoyed when my first agent sold two projects: a middle grade fantasy and a picture book. I felt like my career was getting ready to blast off into outer space! Instead, I found myself stuck in orbit.

After the excitement of that first sale, I struggled to write another novel. And then my agent and I parted ways just months before my debut hit the shelves. The split was amicable and non-dramatic. It was the right thing to do at the time, but when I found myself in the whirlwind of my debut year, fielding agent rejections when I was supposed to be “living the dream,” I felt sort of…pathetic.

I had worked for years on improving my craft, then tried for years to get an agent, then went through a long submission process to sell my work. Somehow, it felt even worse to be having a tough time after experiencing some measure of success. This felt like starting all over again, but with even higher stakes.

I told myself I should be grateful for what I had. After all, I knew friends still searching for their first agents. It seemed whiny and entitled to feel the way I felt….

Read it all at cynthialeitichsmith.com

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