Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Writers and The Ouroboros

I just got back from spending a week in the city with my kids, playing both tourist and showing them the joys of Writopia Lab. From 1pm - 4pm we would be at the Writopia headquarters on West 81st street where I would be with high school seniors in a college essay workshop, and they would separate into different rooms with their own instructors.


I am passionate about writing not only as a craft, but as a tool for finding out what we think, believe and who we are. It's a way of finding our voice. Writopia helps me give back - it's like the Ouroboros - the snake eating its own tail - it's constantly recreating itself.

Rejection doesn't phase the ouroboros, and nor should it phase us writers. At least, not for the long haul.

Don't let rejection eat you! 

The other day I got an email from my agent Edward with disappointing news about India Flips: he doesn't think that he can sell it. 

But he believes in me as a writer; he believes in my career. Edward didn't just say: Sorry, them's the breaks, instead he invited me out for fancy shmancy dim sum at a restaurant called Zenga on 40th Street and 3rd Avenue. We talked for over two hours about what it means to live and breathe writing.

His smile is wry: "Your task is simple Léna. You just have to write a 'break-out' novel."

I laugh: "That's it?" Snap! "Easy-peasy."

"I'm serious Léna. You can do this. You've proven yourself. You are a novelist."

India Flips however good it is, is not that "break-out" book. The standards for a second novel after publishing my first with FSG (and not becoming a best-seller) are unbelievably high. Nobody is going to publish a book with Reality TV/ cheerleaders as the backdrop. India Flips was a major overhaul, a rewrite of a previously rejected (by FSG) novel, In Your Face. So Edward had already counseled me not to rewrite because every publisher "has something like that" on their list. (Can you see me rolling my eyes?)

But I had to do it anyway. And I learned something from it. I had never written a novel in the first person, present tense. And it's a great story! But I am a writer and not a marketer so no, I am not going to self-publish.

Onto the next. Back to writing, ALWAYS back to writing. Creating, re-creating, inventing new narratives and new ways of looking at things.

Writers, are you with me?


  1. Lena- we always hate to hear those words but if we can turn it into something better then we will succeed and my money is on you. I hated getting all those cold and impersonal letters or emails. Edwrad sounds like a great person to have in your corner. "Onto the next. Back to writing." elizabeth

    1. Thank you Elizabeth - onward and upward! I really appreciate your support!

  2. Aren't you fortunate to have such a great agent. Regardless of whether India Flips ever sells, it's already made you a better writer and taught you a lot. I'm with Elizabeth. My money is on you! And how I wish I'd had a Writopia when I was a high school senior.

  3. P.S. Any of the ingenue screen stars like Demi Lovato, have movie deals and Hollywood buys unpublished novels all the time. Have your agent send it out as a movie project. I know that business well. It's a good shot. You wouldn't get to write the script, but you'd get a story credit and a hunk of $$

    1. What a great idea Jayne! Thanks for the tip - I'll definitely look into it!

  4. You have a nice agent, and yes, that second book is high stakes. Been there, done that.

  5. This comes at the perfect time for me, as I'm 3 for 3 rejections of a query for my nonfiction book. We will keep at it! And prevail!

  6. I completely understand, being in the same boat as you. And I too believe you can do it! I think it's great that you have such a supportive agent who is there to help nurture your career as you find your way to that breakout novel.

  7. ALWAYS back to writing . . .Just back from vacation, a little bleary-eyed, slowly catching up.

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