Little children can have incredible dreams.  They can believe they can fly, shoot into space, slide to the other side of the rainbow and land in a pool of pink bubbles made of cotton candy.  The dreams grow even more fantastic when there's no adult around to tell them to stop dreaming.  And that's when children become scribes.  My message today is for first time writers.  I want the world to know that I've made mistakes in pursuit of my dreams.  Why?  It's our frailties that render us human.

Years ago I committed a crime that immortalized the words of a horny teenager. I submitted what I considered a masterpiece to be filed in the Library of Congress. Why? It was my first completed manuscript. I was young, and I thought it was the initial step to publishing. Pleased with my achievement, I queried an agent and sent him the first fifty pages only to receive a tiny card with an impersonal refusal. I was devastated. Believe it or not, your first rejection should be gut-wrenching. That’s what makes you try harder.

I purchased a how-to book and educated myself in the art of querying, which for me is as horrible as attempting a sudoku. I learned about manuscript format, spacing, and the dreaded synopsis. I began to search the net for agents, having memorized the common mantra. “The business of publishing is subjective.” Translation: An agent has to love the story enough to toot your horn and get publishers to like it. That’s okay. We want an agent that’s going to be passionate about our writing.

There are rules to follow. Know your genre. If you find an agent that represents your genre, it’s a good idea to check out the books on his site to see where you fit. Obviously, I’m still searching. There is an overwhelming amount of information available on the internet alone for anyone who wishes to master the art of writing. Don’t ignore it. Show respect. Know your grammar. Demonstrate your willingness to learn. Whoever said that ignorance is bliss was a fool.

Some books are meant to be shelved. None of us are born with a quill in hand ready to execute the perfect novel. Your first few attempts at writing serve a purpose, to chisel away the rough edges. You’ll find you’re telling instead of showing, going crazy with the adverbs, accidentally writing porn scenes, and losing all track of the plot. When all else fails, just write because it’s what you love to do.

The best advice I can offer: Don’t view an obstacle as an opposing force. Instead, see it as an opportunity to better yourself and ultimately achieve the much coveted literary glory.

Happy writing, and don't forget about your dreams.



  1. Laila, that is some incredible advice!

  2. I agree with Alex. Great post, Laila!

  3. Perseverance is the blood keeping the dream alive. :)

  4. Wonderful post, Laila!

    "It's our frailties that render us human."

    Love this.

  5. Define providence has Karen Lange blogging on this exact subject this morning. I think that's too kewl.


  6. Well, hello! Just read your comment. Where did you come from?

    I used to write daily because I read somewhere that bloggers should do that if they wanted to gain an audience. But, the daily stuff became a choir instead of fun, so I went back to weekly, expecting to not only loose followers, but not gain any new ones. You could have knocked me over when my numbers started to grow again. Wow!

    Thanks for the comment....and I will be traveling through your site... ... ... that's me traveling.....kt

  7. "I purchased a how-to book and educated myself in the art of querying, which for me is as horrible as attempting a sudoku." YES! I completely agree. Great post, Laila. :)

  8. @Alex. Thanks. I'm a philosopher at heart...deep stuff in here...really. :)

    @Bryce. Thanks. It's just a bit of inspiration...words to live by. :)

    @L.G. couldn't agree with you more. All we can really do is keep on trying. :)

    @Out of my mind. I'm from Paradise Island...no wait, that was Wonder Woman. I always get a good laugh at your site. Although I try to keep my postings lighthearted that's not always the case. I will post five days a week unless I run out of things to say, which doesn't usually happen. :)

    @Carrie. The crazy thing it that the book I bought and the Writers Market book don't agree with each other 100%. I guess that's why it's good to keep your information updated. :)

  9. @Donna. Thanks. I hope you know I emailed you...not sure if it worked since I did it from my phone. I'd be happy to help any way I can. :)

    @Joylene. It's a small world. I need to check out that posting. :)

  10. I needed this post right now. Thank you. I think I too have some abomination of a young adult novel registered with the copyright office from 20 plus years ago as well. And speaking of kids and their imaginations I spent the better part of the weekend chasing my 3 year old around our coffee table pretending to be first a car, then a train and finally an airplane. Even after 6 hours of this, she was still ripping blood-curdlingly loud giggles. I was insanely dizzy. She was not. She used her water bottle to "fill up my tank". Great post.

  11. You are very sweet and it sounds like you're on your way to becoming a huge success. Hope you always stay positive on that road to the top!

  12. Amazing job on this post, if your fiction is anything of this magnitude then you'll go far. In particular this post hits home for me, as in I think you have wire tapped my brain an listened in over the past year or two. I fell into many of the same pitfalls you describe above. Luckily as you stated some<---some of the rough edges have smoothed out.

  13. @Lisa. I love it that I'm not the only one with an abomination filed with the library of congress...thank God it's under an assumed name. She used her water bottle to fill up your tank..LOL. Kids have the best imaginations, and so much energy. :)

    @Desert Rocks. Eve, thank you for your kind words. I appreciate having the support of another positive guru (aka: you) on my side. :)

    @Mike. I think every writer who really wants to make it out there goes through a struggle of "live and learn". We're all still learning too. Each time I believe I know everything a spark of light falls from the heavens and says, "ahah!" That's when I say, "oh hell not again." Good luck to us all! :)

  14. Is anyone else having trouble with blogger? I can't see buddy/follower faces...pisses me off. Sorry, I'm having a moment. Social media....blah....okay I'm done...^-^...

  15. Laila, you're always so positive & upbeat. And I don't know how you find the time to post everyday. I don't even have time to read everyday let alone write a post. I dread that I have to do it once a week! Anyway, you're an inspiration.

    Right now, after months of disappointment in querying, I've tamed my enthusiasm into a more manageable beast. It's a shame I've even had to, but if I want to retain my sanity, it's a must.

  16. @Nancy. Thank you for your kind words. I don't have much time either, that's why I don't Twitter or go on FB. I understand why you've tamed your enthusiasm. Querying is hard work, and rejection sucks righteously. You will succeed. Just give it time. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.