Today I drove my gimpy-ass to the SFARWA meeting to see literary agent Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Let me first say that she is not only brilliant and hard working, but had enough energy to power the whole publishing industry on her own! Yowzer. (And I totally mean that in a good-I-wish-she-was-my-agent kind of way.) (As a side note, she told the writers/authors at the meeting that she tends to talk fast…I didn’t notice. Hmmm, wonder what that says about me? *wink)
I could write ten blogs worth of what she talked about, but I won’t. What I will do is tell you the part that stuck with me the most. She said, “Writing is 98% passion and 2% common sense.”
Did you get that? 98% passion. (Fitting for a blog before Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?)
I’ve heard from many writers that the definition of a published author is an unpublished writer who didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. There’s that passion point again.
Maybe there’s really something to it.
John Grisham received rejections from thirty editors and thirty literary agencies before finally selling A Time to Kill (which was also made into a movie with hunky-monkey Matthew Mcconaughey).
Janet Evanovich, author of the astoundingly popular Stephanie Plum Series, received rejections for ten years before finally getting published. Talk about a passion for writing!
Stephen King has given countless interviews where he talks about rejections being the stepping stones to success…
Hold the phone. Does he mean that those nasty little form rejections lined up for my burn pile really mean something? Would I not be able to reach success without them? I don’t think so, because I’ve heard a few writers say they only had a handful of rejections before they landed an agent and made a sale. (I hate you folks by the way. I really do.) (Okay, not really.) (Well, maybe a smidgen.) But if he means that by getting them you strive harder and make your writing better until you reach the other side, I’d have to agree.
The existence of passion is crucial in every element of your life; marriage, friendships, career. Writing is no different. If you love something enough to do anything for it…or him…or her…then you have the passion that will take you to the next level (whatever that may be). If you fill yourself with an intense desire to succeed, eventually you will reach your goal.
Now do something passionate today. Kiss someone you love because you mean it and not only because Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Plant an organic garden because you know deep down it’s the right thing to do. Finish that project you’ve been putting aside. Ride out a three-thousand-word storm and then celebrate any way you know how.
98% passion, people. Live it up.
5 thoughts on “Passion and Barbara Poelle”
Don't you dare burn those rejections, lady! Every last one of them can teach you something, but more than that, they are proof that you are out there doing it. Lots of people say they're going to write a book, but almost nobody really does. Then there are all of those too terrified too send it out into the world (not a judgement, I was one of them for a little while). Those are your real writer badges. Don't burn them. Show them off.
Adrienne, I think if I lined them all up they'd stretch to the Golden Gate…and back! LOL! Thanks for the kind words and don't worry…I'll keep pushing through. 🙂
Hang in there, Kristin! Your great attitude is going to be key. You *will* get there, I feel it in my bones….
Aww, thanks Sophie. That means a lot coming from an…ahem…Edgar nominee!
Yep, Barbara Poelle is dah bomb — and it helps that she inspires. Unfortunately, not all agents do. But Barbara gets that it's a business, and it doesn't help to intimidate potential clients. Good luck, Kristin, on your submissions!