Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer

And a year later, I reflect


I’m all stuck on this reflection junk, aren’t I?

It’s been a year since I randomly quit my steady job and started flying blind as an independent contractor.

And it’s seriously been one of the best years of my life.

Granted, it definitely didn’t feel like it half the time, as my hubby and I struggled to pay bills and I tried to find the motivation to work from home.

But the amount of info I have learned about writing and the publishing industry this past year has made every shitty thing worth it.

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid – started with my yellow “Diary Written” when I was 9, moved onto bad poetry when I was 13 and short stories shortly after, followed by a novel attempt at 16.  I’ve been writing and writing ever since (although I long ago abandoned angsty poetry), but without any idea what I was going to do with all these mss I was amassing.

Last August I queried a book and was promptly rejected by every single agent.  I don’t blame them, the whole thing was awful and I’ve since torn it apart.  But the whole process taught me so much, especially about querying, so I tucked away that knowledge and moved on (although I did suffer from the “I suck ass” blues for a few days).

I kept hearing all this “it takes a village” type stuff and I was all, “What?  That’s dumb!  Why do I care what other people have to say?  It’s my book!  Mine!”

Wow, I was a dumbass.   

I started following a few of the blogs of the agents that had rejected me and then I stumbled onto more writing blogs and some hella good advice.  I was learning about the industry and I saw over and over again that I should have people read my “final” draft before I sent it off for consideration. 


It was the same advice my husband (damn him!) had been telling me for years: “If you’re going to be a writer, you need to actually let people read your writing.”


Yeah, maybe he had a *small* point.

It’s not even the suggestions/criticisms that bother me.  I worked as a directory assistance operator for a year and a half, I’ve been called every name in the book and I’ve learned to roll with the punches.  People aren’t offering suggestions to be snarky (or I don’t think…), they are offering ideas to help me improve, which is pretty darn nice of them.

The thing that gets me is letting other people read *me*.  I don’t write as some kind of habit or to pass the time, I put all of myself (including some of my sanity) into pouring my ideas and imagination into these pages.  When I let someone else read my words, I feel so vulnerable and exposed, like I’m jumping off a bridge with my eyes closed.  I have no idea if I’m gonna land on a bunch of rocks or if I’ve got a parachute strapped to my back. 

It’s f’ing terrifying to just let go.

And it’s so hard to separate myself from the things I write.  It’s probably the same way most creative people feel and why we’re all so lovably kooky. 

For me, writing isn’t just a job, it’s my life.  It’s hard work, much harder than non-writers could ever imagine.  And it’s the same way as with any other thing – to get better, you have to practice, you have to fail, you have to go through the “I suck ass” phase every once in awhile.  It makes you stronger, more determined, more informed.

But sometimes it’s a bumpy process, especially if you’re fighting against it the entire time, like I used to do.  If you’re a stubborn ass like me, get over yourself!  You may have written THE next great novel, but if you just stick it in a drawer and don’t reach out to anyone, then it doesn’t do anyone any good.

I used to say “I write for me, pshaw if I ever get published.” 

Now I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to get published.  In a way, I still do write for me because I love what I do, but I also want it to be my job.  No sales = no job, so the business aspect of writing is just as important as the creative.  Before this past year, I didn’t realize that.  I didn’t realize much at all.  Ignorance is not bliss.

I could go on and on with my introspection, but I think (I hope) I’ve made my point clear.  Maybe not everyone can get as lucky as me and find a make-your-own hours type of job, but everyone can make their own opportunities.  I saw my chance and I took it and I’m gonna continue to work my ass off until I get what I want. 

*runs up steps at art museum and raises hands victoriously over head while finding life metaphors in movies*

Author: Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Things I like: cats, snacks, baseball, green tea, taking pictures of trees & movies so bad, they’re good.

4 thoughts on “And a year later, I reflect

  1. That’s the spirit! No worries, I had lots of rejections before my book got picked up! (and a few that came in AFTER I was under contract which I burned while laughing meniachly) And if you need an extra set of eyes on something, let me know.

  2. This was such a lovely post. How brave of you, to take the risk last year, and I’m so glad you’ve loved it!

  3. This is a really great post. I admire your bravery and honesty. Congrats on your anniversary of quitting and pursuing your dreams!

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