By Megan Tady
Recently, I met up with Dori Ostermiller at the Writers in Progress Studio to discuss my debut novel Super Bloom, and to plan my “pub” day launch event. As I sunk into a comfy, time-worn chair, the early morning sunlight streaming in from those giant mill-building windows, I was catapulted back to 2014 when I first began taking creative writing classes with Dori.
I’ve written since I was very young—so much so that my grandmother gave me a typewriter as a birthday gift when I was eight. In high school, I joined the newspaper staff, completely enamored with the fast-paced frenzy just before we sent the paper to the printer each week. In college, I earned a journalism degree, aspiring to be an investigative reporter, which is what I did, or tried to do, for many years.
But write a novel? Who, me? I never thought I had the chops. I didn’t even know where to start. Still, a longing to write fiction nagged at me, and I made what felt like a very bold move: signing up for a writing class at WIP with a small group of other writers. Each week, we sat hunched over notebooks or laptops, dashing off lines based on Dori’s writing prompts, me silently praying she wouldn’t ask us to read our work aloud. (She did, and I died a little each time. But also, I survived.)
It was in that very room that I began tip toeing toward my novel, writing bits of dialogue, meeting my characters, and working up the confidence to admit two things to myself.
The first: Yes, I’m writing a book.
The second: Yes, I can learn to do this.
And, guess what? It only took eight years! Alright, so my journey was long. I’ll make my recap short-ish.
Here goes: I had misstarts and mistakes. I queried agents too early and heard crickets. I took breaks because I was stuck. I took breaks because I was also building my successful writing and editing business. I wrote in the in-between moments of raising two young children, now four and seven, Paw Patrol in the background. I tried waking up at 5 a.m. I discovered I could not wake up at 5 a.m. I hired freelance editors to help me figure out where I was going wrong. I took more writing classes. I read and read and read and read other novels. I listened to dozens of podcasts with other writers, and then I honed and honed and honed my query letter until I wanted to hurl my laptop at the TV still playing Paw Patrol. How many times can puppies rescue someone?
I queried again. I got 70 rejections. I got 15 full requests that never landed me an agent. I joined writing groups. I picked apart my novel. I considered quitting. I cried. A lot. I kept going. I queried for a third time, eight months later, reaching back out to an agent who had rejected me, and she agreed to read my novel again. I had a referral to Zibby Owens, who had just started her publishing company Zibby Books. Off went my manuscript, my finger’s crossed, but also, I steeled myself for more rejection. On a Tuesday morning in February 2022, I received the email that changed my life: “Offer.” Zibby Books was acquiring Super Bloom.
And that agent who said no the first time? She signed me. And she helped me sell my second novel, which I’m currently writing.
I often think back to the woman I was two years ago, three years ago, five, on the days that felt lonely, in the hours where I doubted myself, in the moments just after a stinging rejection, and I want to thank her with all of my heart. I’m so glad she—me—didn’t give up.
Now, I’m preparing for the debut of Super Bloom and the book tour of my dreams—all while an actual superbloom is happening in California for the first time in years! I’m sure it can seem from the outside like I sprung up out of nowhere, a California poppy on a mountainside. But the truth is, I’ve been slogging away for a long time, biding my time, waiting for the right conditions to bloom—just like those dormant wildflower seeds. Sure, it took the perfect amount of rain and sun for those flowers to blanket the desert, but it also took the seeds’ temerity, a hard-wired belief that it was possible. The surety to say again and again: Yes, I can do this.
Join us for an in-person Pub-day Launch of Megan’s novel at our studio on May 2, @ 7 pm. Email email@example.com to RSVP; space is limited!
When Megan first came to my workshops in 2014 and started sharing bits of her story, then a couple of years later brought me a first draft for editing/feedback, I knew that she had something special — talent, for sure. But also humor, and guts and grit. I’m so excited to host Megan’s Publication Day Launch at our studio on May 2!