Obligatory End-Of-Decade Retrospective Post (Spoiler: It Ends with a Book Deal!)

2010 // I kicked off this decade with a bang — literally! I crashed my car into a guardrail that January. (All because I was crying over a breakup, like a dumb bitch.) Aside from that whole saga, I’d describe 2010 as academic AF. I graduated from college in May and then moved to NYC for grad school at NYU at the end of the summer. This was also the year I started writing my first book — a half-baked collection of personal essays — which I ultimately had to shelve once I got to New York and realized that grad school requires you to, like, focus on it or whatever.

2011 // Ah! The year I fell out of love with New York. Didn’t take long! Just a few months of urban life before I realized that Sex and the City was a total crock of shit. (Carrie wrote ONE column a week, spent all her money on shoes, and somehow lived the most glam 1%-adjacent NYC life ever documented on television. Ugh! Still love her, though.) Living in Manhattan on a budget of student loans was not cute for me. I missed all the things I used to take for granted — space, washing machines, air, etc. So I escaped to Nashville for the summer in an attempt to a) get some air, and b) kick off my career as a songwriter. I didn’t quite get anywhere with that second one, which was crushing at the time — both my degrees were in music, and up until then I had always seen my life as being built around being a musician (who maybe also wrote books). But my Nashville experience helped me realize that I didn’t quite love songwriting enough to move there permanently and really pursue it. So then I started this very blog (!) and focused my attention on writing-writing about my fucked up love life instead. (I mean, I told you I still loved Carrie.)

2012 // I started working in the music licensing department of MTV that January — my very first “real” job! So from then until May I did the full-time grad school/full-time work thing. It was exhausting and I would not recommend it, tbh. After graduation, I moved into my first apartment in Connecticut and settled into the commuter lifestyle. But most importantly: that summer I got really serious about my book and started writing it in earnest (while also continuing to document my absurd dating journey on this blog, of course).

2013 // I finished my book in July! If you’ve ever read this blog, you probably know all about that book. It was my baby. I was obsessed. I pitched it to every literary agent in New York and talked about it with everyone I knew. When I wasn’t in book-mode, I was either a) working, or b) romantically entangled with some asshole. Oh my God. I swear I blew dated every gay man in the tri-state area during this time period. In November I even had a rom-com-y organic meet-cute with a guy on the Metro North train — only for him to interrupt our spontaneous make-out session at the end of the night with the revelation that he had a wife. It was a fucking saga! (And then I ran into him at Dunkin Donuts a few months later!)

2014 // Shit got kinda dark this year. My publishing journey was not going as planned. While many agents expressed interest in my manuscript, none were willing to take me on as a client. Their biggest concern was that my book was nonfiction and I didn’t have a big enough platform to make it appealing to publishers. I revised it a zillion times and kept pushing, but still no luck. There were many moments of despair and existential angst. But! I finally met the man of my dreams that October — and this time he DIDN’T have a wife! So that was a pretty huge blessing.

2015 // This year started with a literary rejection from an agent who — after some back-and-forth in the SAME goddamn email chain as my book pitch — told me that he was horny and asked for nudes. So… that’s where my writing career was at. Yo! I was ready to fucking SNAP! I had so much pent-up resentment toward agents, toward my day job, toward the entire system. In retrospect I realize that my writing wasn’t quite ready to be published yet, but still. I wanted to “be a writer” so fucking bad. So that May I quit my job at MTV and took a big pay cut to be a full-time Staff Writer at an online media start-up. Also! I moved to New Jersey to be with my incredibly supportive boyfriend.

2016 // After a hellish year as a full-time internet writer (much to the neglect of my actual book goals), I got laid off in September. (You can read all about THAT saga here.) Still agentless after a zillion drafts of my book, I finally decided it was time to move on with my life and write the second one.

2017 // I finished my second book in February! It was a YA novel, a genre I pivoted to largely because I knew from experience that I couldn’t get an agent writing nonfiction and the story I most wanted to tell was about my high school years. Sadly, this book didn’t nab me an agent right away either. But it did solicit some really detailed, encouraging feedback, which I hoped meant I was headed in the right direction. In the meantime I cycled through two new day jobs (lol).

2018 // I kicked off this year watching The Founder on my couch. It’s about how Ray Kroc’s perseverance turned McDonald’s into an empire. Very inspiring!!! So I decided to do one more revision on my second book and really ramp up my pitching efforts. And it worked — I finally got an offer of representation and signed with my (incredible) agent just a month later in February! She took the book out on submission, and I had to pinch myself knowing that editors at all the major publishers were reading MY words. It was a longtime dream come true! But alas… despite lots of flattering feedback, it pretty much got rejected across the board. One editor offered to look at it again if I revised according to his notes, so I got busy doing (yet another) revision that May. Also in May I started yet another day job (this time at Condé Nast), because student loans are a bitch.

2019 // This year alone was basically its own decade, so allow me to break this one up into li’l chunks.

After another string of rejections on my 2018 revision, an editor finally took my book to acquisitions (basically the finish line before you get a deal) the first week of January 2019! And on January 10th, we got the news that it was rejected. OMG… I was a fucking mess. I sobbed in my car after work that night and honestly questioned why I was devoting all my time and energy into such a difficult pursuit. I mean, the business of publishing is so subjective and unpredictable; putting in thousands of hours of hard work literally guarantees you nothing. I knew I had written a decent book — my agent and the editor who took it to acquisitions were proof of that — but I learned that writing a good book is just a tiny fraction of what it takes to get published. The rest of it requires so many uncontrollable factors to align in so many intricate ways, it’s amazing any debut novels ever get through the door.

So basically I was ready to give up on my dreams. But! I still had this one really great book idea in me that I NEEDED to get out. So I decided to write my third book as quickly as possible. I was sick of spending so much time laboring over something with such an uncertain outcome, and I worried that if I didn’t get it out quickly I never would. So I spent every hour of free time I had from January through March working on it — waking up at 4am every day and writing before work, after work, and for 20 hours on the weekends. I didn’t even shave! I finished and sent it to my agent at the end of March right before going to Vegas for my 31st birthday.

After a quickie revision once I got back from Vegas, my agent sent my newest book out to publishers on April 2nd. And we got a wildly enthusiastic response from an editor three days later saying he wanted to take it to acquisitions! Over the next two months we received tons of praise from other editors, but also many rejections with the common feedback that it wasn’t easily categorized as either YA or adult (possibly because my two main characters were 18 and 34). There was so much back and forth during this time — it felt like years — but on a random Friday in June… we got a DREAM offer!!! My amazing editor — the one who responded three days after we went on submission — jumped through several hoops and got the approval to acquire it as an adult title (even though he typically only acquires YA). I’m still pinching myself that my debut novel, BURN IT THE F*** DOWN, will be published by Little, Brown (!) next year.

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It’s funny; I spent the first nine years of the decade pouring my heart and soul into projects that ultimately went nowhere, and then the book that finally got me a deal is one that I churned out in a three-month blaze of focus and determination. But! I know for a fact that that three-month blaze would not have been at all possible without the the nine years of hard work and countless hours of writing that preceded it. The cliché is so true — failure is inevitable, but it’s also a blessing. You just have to learn from it, grow from it, and continue to stay the course.

Wow! This was a much longer-than-expected post. But so therapeutic! To think I started this decade crying (and crashing a car) over a breakup and dreaming of writing a book — and finished it in a healthy, loving relationship AND with a deal at a major publisher. Sometimes I can lose sight of just how blessed I am amid the stresses/anxieties/struggles of daily life. But I am an extraordinarily lucky bitch! And one of my goals for this next decade is to be present and grateful and not take anything for granted. I’ve already given my boyfriend permission to punch me in the nose if I complain about literally anything in 2020. Happy New Year!!!

 

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