Please welcome MM Finck as our guest today. MM’s women’s fiction is represented by Katie Shea Boutillier of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. She is a regular contributor to WomenWritersWomen[‘s]Books and also oversees that blog’s Author Interview segment and Agent’s Corner. She is the contest chair for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association 2016 Rising Star writing contest for unpublished authors. Her work has appeared in national and regional publications. When she isn’t working on her novel-in-progress, #LOVEIN140, she can be found belting out Broadway tunes (offkey and with the wrong words), cheering herself hoarse over a soccer match (USWNT!–2015 WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS!!!!), learning to play piano (truly pitifully), repairing or building something around her house, and trying to squeeze more than twenty-four hours out of every day.
The Creativity Trinity: Truth|Empathy|Hope
The most beneficial thing for me about living in an all-women’s residence hall in college was the sharing: I’ve never done that either! / Yeah, I did that too. So dumb. / That happened to me too! –> I’d thought I was the only one.
I’ve witnessed the same experiences at writers’ conferences and retreats and in writing classes and groups. You queried how many times? / Your first book didn’t sell either? / Your publicist forgot you existed? What’d you do? –> I’d thought I was the only one.
Sharing lifts shame. It creates camaraderie and trust. It creates hope.
Eleven years later, this scene from the film Walk The Line still echoes from the corners of my mind. Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash is auditioning for a spot on the record label of Sam Phillips played by Dallas Roberts. Phillips challenges Cash’s choice of song and the obvious incongruity between the spiritual lyrics and the state of Cash’s actual spirit:
“One song that would sum you up… Somethin’ real. Somethin’ you felt. Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song people want to hear. That’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothin’ to do with believin’ in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with believin’ in yourself.”
My first agented novel was well-received but didn’t sell for a few funny-sounding marketing reasons. I’d thought I was the only one. Guess what? The more that fact comes up, the more other authors tell me that their first book didn’t sell either. I will not divulge their names because they are their truths to tell, but I will confide that six of them are New York Times bestsellers. Two of them with films made based on their books. My take was: This is not a game ender. It can still work out. Keep at it.
Before Nicholas Sparks got his big Warner deal for The Notebook, he’d been a query rejection collector like the rest of us. In fact, the only agent who’d (wisely!) offered him representation was a young woman with no sales experience. When I was querying, I relished every story of a successful author who’d queried a hundred plus times before finding his or her dream agent. My take was: This is not a game ender. It can still work out. Keep at it.
But truth doesn’t always give us an injection of hope, does it? [Read more…]