Be Like Madonna

- by Sherrill Bodine

If you are having a bad year, or two or more, be like Madonna and reinvent yourself. To quote a cliche . . . “Necessity is the mother of invention.” The dictionary lists Invention as “A mental fabrication” . . .Inventive as “Adept or skillful at inventing; creative’ ingenious” . . .and Inventor as “One who contrives.”
All of the above are true of writers when they must reinvent themselves and their careers.  It was certainly true for me.

I’m sure my tale isn’t any different than thousands of others . . .my editors left the house . . . I broke up a writing partnership . . .I changed agents and discovered it was not a good fit . . .the list of my mistakes and misadventures go on and on.

I have two signs on my desk . . the first one reads, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly” and the other reads, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

Staring at these signs every day inspired me to call my former agent (this agency had sold all 15 of my books) and when she said, “you’re always welcome to come back,” I couldn’t get to her office fast enough!

I absolutely, positively credit Danielle Egan-Miller of the Browne Miller Literary Agency for successfully reinventing my career.  Danielle told me to write my expertise.  I thought . . .What? . . The social scene in Chicago? . . .Who will care?  Danielle predicted that readers would love a peek behind the social scene  She also urged me to be myself and use my true voice — something I’d never really done.

First component of my reinvention — Listen to your agent.  I trusted that Danielle knew the market better than I did so I purged my former persona, Lynn Leslie and Leslie Lynn, and became myself, Sherrill Bodine.

Second Conponent of my reinvention — a supportive Critique Group.  I took my courage in my hands and went to them with these revolutionary ideas.  They gently but firmly suggested how I could make my new book better and patted me on the head when I obeyed their orders.

Third component –my determination to make it happen by not listening to all the gossip . . .”publishers’s aren’t buying” . . .”contemporary romance is dead” . . doom and gloom.  If I’d listened I would have gone back to bed and thrown the covers over my head instead of sitting at my computer and writing.  And rewriting.  And rewriting again.

Sure, some houses passed on my brilliant new project and I felt that kick of dread and failure in my gut, but Danielle sent it out again.

Just when I thought my new writing career was over before it started, I became a butterfly.  Warner Books (now Grand Central Publishing) offered me a two book contract.  I will never forget that feeling of joy and affirmation — I could still do this wonderful, crazy, fulfilling job of writing books that people wanted to spend their hard earned money and precious time reading!

Actually when I got the call I was visiting friends in California and was on the LA freeway.  I burst into tears, which isn’t the safest thing to do on the LA freeway.

Of course I had to rewrite from 1st person to 3rd and turn the story into more of a romance than I had first plotted, but, honestly, I was willing to do whatever it took to make it work — this is most certainly Component # 4.

TALK OF THE TOWN  came out in December 2008 and was chosen by Cosmopolitan Magazine as their “Red Hot Read” in their February ’09 issue.  A BLACK TIE AFFAIR  is out January 1, 2010.

If you are facing the same challenges of reinvention, try my four part program and you too have the possibility of becoming a butterfly.

3 comments

  1. What a great blog! Love both signs on your desk. I especially liked your comments about rewriting. Seems like that is the key to success. This advice is a perfect way to start the New Year!

  2. Thank you for the inspiration, I NEEDED THIS! I love the two signs, also!

    Also, best of luck and best wishes for a Happy New Year to Sherrill and all the NINC authors and readers!
    Deb

  3. Love this! What great inspiration.