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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cat Grant: Things I Wished I’d Known When I Started Writing

Hello Fellow Writers!
Today I'd like to welcome multi-published author Cat Grant to The Writer's Challenge. Take it away, Cat!

Things I Wished I’d Known When I Started Writing

Cat Grant: I’m one of those people who can’t not write. Don’t get me wrong—I can, and frequently do, go weeks without setting words to virtual paper. I go great guns when I’m waist-deep in a new project, but once that’s done, I need a little while to recharge my batteries before starting something new. I relish my relaxation time as much as my work time, but I know without a doubt I could never go the rest of my life without writing. Once the words and the characters have me in their grasp, I’m a goner.

But it wasn’t always that way. Despite the fact that I’ve been writing since grammar school (way back in the ol’ horse-and-buggy days when we actually used pens and paper!), it took me most of my adult life to get published. In retrospect, I think it was because I couldn’t get out of my own way. I was by far my own worst critic. Nothing was ever good enough. I had no idea how to plot, so most of my stories stalled out around the halfway point. On the rare occasions when I’d finish something, I’d turn around and start rewriting it from scratch. Now I can see this was simply a delaying tactic, an excuse to keep me from finishing anything, and thus not have to submit it anywhere and risk rejection.

Finally I decided it was time to put myself out there. I started writing sci-fi and fantasy short stories, for the burgeoning new online zine markets. For five years, I racked up rejection after rejection. It was horribly depressing. At last I took a good, long look at my work, and realized all those editors who’d said no were absolutely right. While I loved reading sci-fi and fantasy, I had no feel for writing it. My stories had interesting characters, but no interesting ideas and absolutely no grasp of science.

So I needed to find a new genre. I’d written a great deal of fan fiction over the past decade, and realized my strengths lay in writing relationship stories. So I wrote an erotic romance novel and started submitting it to various e-publishing markets—and still I got rejected. Why? Because I had page after dull, boring page of my characters sitting around thinking instead of doing. When that realization finally dawned, it was one of those “Aha!” moments that changed the way I wrote forever.

It’s hard to see the flaws in one’s work because we’re so close to it. We know exactly how much sweat went into polishing that story until (we think!) it shines, and then comes that awful punch in the gut when someone else doesn’t love it as much as we do.

But all rejections happen for a reason. I tend to think of them as a test. It’s the universe’s way of asking, “How badly do you want to be published? Are you willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means ripping this book apart and starting over?”

I’ve got a bunch of inspirational quotes about writing tacked up on the wall above my desk. One of them says, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” As someone who took 48 years to get published, I’m living proof of this statement.

Believe in yourself and your work, even on days when it feels as if no one else does. Keep writing, keep submitting. Don’t quit!

Cat Grant's book Entangled Trio comes out February 18th at Ellora's Cave.

Here's the blurb:
Renowned mezzo-soprano Colette DuPlessis is carrying on a torrid affair with her costar, handsome young tenor David Lewis. David wants Colette as more than just a short-term fling, but she must return home to Paris—and her husband, conductor Aleksandr Petrovsky.

Though she and Aleks have an open marriage, Colette vows never to see David again. But when her new costar cancels right before opening night, she has no choice but to suggest David as a replacement.

It doesn’t take long before Aleks notices the amazing chemistry sizzling between David and his wife—and realizes he’s attracted to the gorgeous young singer himself. He and Colette quickly make it their mission to seduce him. The three of them explore the far reaches of pain and pleasure. But Colette and David soon learn they must guard their hearts closely, or risk losing themselves within this entangled trio.



  1. I could have used this column last summer! While I'm mostly the same way as far as not being able to not write, I hit a point last year where I almost tossed it in - writing had become a curse, and my creativity fell into the negative range. Nothing positive at all! I *couldn't* bring myself to write anymore. After 20 years of rejections (some really bad ones too), my thick skin had thinned considerably. I'd written in so many genres, and until that point last year, had savored every rejection, saw it much the same - as a test - and worked that much harder.

    Other reasons factored into my decision to give up the dream as well, and if it wasn't for two very good friends and critique partners, I would have followed through. It hurt to write then, more than it hurt not to, so it took a pretty big shove from them to pick myself up and submit again.

    Good thing I gave in - I sold a book that came out in October, and the next one will be out the end of this month. I let the non-believers get to me, and it's a mistake I will never ever make again.

  2. Isn't it a great feeling when all those years of hard work pay off? Congrats, Gianna! :)

  3. I would've told myself never to give up writing. If one can write regularly, one's halfway there. I wish I had your absolute dedication, Cat. The second thing would be exactly what you write: don't be afraid of rejection, see it as an opportunity to get better.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. Wonderful post. The blurb for your story sounds interesting. Mother of two classical trained singers. I'm also one of those who never gave up. Took some side trips but I now must write every day.

  5. Persistence pays off, no doubt about it. Funny thing is, once you have an acceptance in hand, you don't remember all the pain and sweat that went into writing your story. You're just proud as hell that you wrote it. :)


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