As writers, we have to make a lot of leaps of faith: Believing we can create something out of nothing. Believing we have a story to tell. Believing someone will want to hear it. Believing our work is worth doing.
In my writing life, there have been a lot of those crazy leaps, but maybe none so big as the one I made five years ago, during a very bleak time in my life. I was between books then – never a happy place for me to be – and I couldn’t settle on what to write next. My mind was a muddle of other people’s voices – editors, agents, critics, reviewers, well-meaning family and friends. I could no longer hear myself. It didn’t help that it had been a devastating year for me personally, and that the blows showed no sign of stopping.
One day, reeling from news that I thought would break me apart, I sat down in a coffeeshop and just let myself write about how I felt. And there on the page, I asked myself a question:
If you were only allowed one more book, what would it be?
Sometimes when you ask the right question, you get an answer. Right there in the coffeeshop, a story started to come to me. And kept coming over the next days and weeks and months. A story about – of all things – a Spymaster, a ruby, and a girl who heard music that no one else could hear. A girl who needed to find her own voice to survive.
It wasn’t like anything I’d ever written before. It wasn’t anything like my agent or editors were expecting from me. But oh, how I wanted to write it!
And so I did.
It took me much longer that I expected, partly because I had a baby not long after I started, and also because we later made an international move. I had to set the work aside for long periods of time – at one point for more than a year – and even when I was working on it I usually only had tiny pockets of time. The story, too, was a challenge, requiring many more drafts than usual.
But this leap of faith has a happy ending. When the book finally went out last month, it had the good luck to fall into the hands of Julie Just at Janklow & Nesbit. She loved the story so much that it made me cry. And when the book went out to editors, well, my friends… that was one amazing week. And now the book has found a home.
Here’s the official announcement: ,
From this week’s PW Children’s Bookshelf:
“In a pre-empt just before Frankfurt, Karen Wojtyla of Margaret K. McElderry Books bought a YA series by Amy Butler Greenfield called Chantress. The series, set in London in the 1660s, centers on a girl who can sing magic in a world that forbids it; her talent quickly gets her into trouble with an evil Lord Protector. The first book in the trilogy is set for summer 2013. Greenfield is the author of the middle-grade novel Virginia Bound and the nonfiction book A Perfect Red. Julie Just of Janklow & Nesbit Associates negotiated the deal for North American rights.”
So here’s to leaps of faith! And here’s to the friends – including you wonderful people who read this blog – who helped sustain me through mine.