Writer represented by Sharon Belcastro with The Belcastro Agency
 
I have never denied my potential. In fact, growing up an only child, I had a platform to display it. My mother was always scouting the town for different avenues to nurture my creativity. If I wasn’t drawing, I was writing.

My goal after graduating high school and was to attend Tuskegee University in pursuit of a B.S. in Architecture. My second passion was sketching and designing floor plans for homes. I got as little sidetracked when my mother wanted me closer to home and encouraged me to attend nearby Miles College and pursue a degree in the liberal arts, and then transfer later. I am glad I made the choice, in retrospect, because I had the opportunity to build the foundation for lucrative career in creative writing.

Starting was the difficult part. Writing was so much easier when I was sixteen years old, lying across my twin size bed with no distractions from the outside world. As a twenty-something year old woman with a career in insurance, a busy preschooler, and other domestic duties, sometimes maintaining focus is challenging. Oftentimes, I find myself up in the wee hours of the morning pecking away at my desktop computer. That is the time my imagination goes wild. I become prisoner to my make-shift home office and channel all of my energy into a world different from my own.

Querying was scary for me. I’ve read so many stories about authors like Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help who wrote over fifty queries over the course of several years and consistently got hit with rejection. I also read about National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, the author of Salvage The Bones, and her fight to become published. The entire process intimidated me. I learned to write a query when I was a teenager, but the query process of fifteen years ago is a far cry from what it is today. This is an electronic age. Long gone are the days that you would send a query to New York with its self-address stamped envelope awaiting a reply that may take several weeks and even months. Nowadays, a query can get into the hands of a prospective literary agent or an editor with one click.

My first batch of queries of course generated several rejections. I didn’t initially become discouraged. Once I’d sent out a few, I created an Excel spreadsheet to track submissions. Before long, I was realizing that I was actually breaking ground. The feeling was euphoric. I was actually introducing literary agents to this story that I’d concocted in my mind.

Those feelings were short-lived. After the rejections, came the anxiety. Am I actually good? Is my writing publishable? Should I self-publish? I began doubting my capabilities. I had a few agents that were reviewing my partial manuscript, and a few even had my full. I still felt like I was in a funk. It was then that I opened the e-mail message that forever changed my life. Ella Marie Shupe of the Belcastro Agency wrote me back and told me that she and Sharon Belcastro loved my story! They wanted to represent my work!

I think I called my mother first. She was at a loss of words. All that she could say was, “I can’t believe that you are about to do it!” And it makes me proud. My mother raised me alone and always stressed the importance of goals and perseverance. Obtaining a representation is a very challenging feat. Overcoming this hurdle was a gigantic step toward the advancement of my career.

Now if I can survive this submissions stage, I’ll be OK without visiting a shrink and begging for a prescription of Xanax.

 





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Marissa Quinae Boglin