So, who is Morgan T. Jackson? She’s got a lot to say about life, family, + beginning a writing career. Read more below.
I’d like to talk to you about being patient when it comes to going after what you want. I’m not saying don’t act fast, but I do encourage you to be willing to put in the work, time, + effort in the process of chasing your ambitions.
Since this is my very first post, let me start from the beginning. When I was a little girl, I envisioned myself wearing many hats. Like most little girls, I wanted to be a singer, actress, or model because I enjoyed singing + performing in front of my family. Then, I discovered my love for art. In elementary school, I was purposeful when it came to coloring in between the lines, + once I began to draw more, my peers took notice. Sometimes, they’d ask me to draw a face or house for them for a small class project. I’d happily do it. It was fun, + I continued to hone in my art skills throughout middle + high school.
Fast forward to the now 26-year-old adult I am today + I’ve come to learn what I love to do most is write, though I’m not sure when I had this epiphany. I’d like to think it came two years ago after writing my first manuscript, but even as a preteen I loved to type my own YA stories on my dad’s laptop, or journal my thoughts about my day. Those journals were sacred to me, my most prized possessions. Some people know exactly what their purpose is + it’s absolutely admirable when people go after it…with a course in mind. Because while dreams are wonderful, still remember to ground yourself in reality. What does that mean? Allow me to share a story.
I wrote my first manuscript in 2018. Since high school, I’d always had this idea for a fairtytale about a princess looking to undo a curse + embark on this dangerous quest to do so. Listen, I don’t really know what was going on in my head at the time, but I told myself I would finish the novel in three months. Yep. That’s right. Just three months. Fellow writers who are reading this, I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s very doable if you set your mind to it. In March 2018, I was highly motivated to finish in three months because I had planned on attending the Writing Workshop of Chicago that June where I signed on to have a few pitch sessions with some agents there. I wanted to be able to say I had my manuscript finished, so I typed a chapter every day with two beta readers giving me feedback in between until the workshop.
So, how did the writers conference go + what became of my manuscript? Well, the conference was quite the eye-opener for an aspiring author like myself. I learned a lot about the publishing industry + got to meet some fantastic writers. While there, I pitched The Ugly Princess to three YA fantasy agents. All requested I formally query them + one even requested the full manuscript! I was so excited. When I returned to SC, I emailed queries to any agent I thought could best represent me, including the ones I met in Chicago. But then…reality soon set in.
I received multiple rejections, including one from the agent who requested the full manuscript. She along with many others gave me the same feedback: they didn’t resonate with my protagonist + thought she lacked personality. I was sad, discouraged even, but this of course made so much sense in the grand scheme of things. My beta readers didn’t feel connected to the protagonist in the first draft, + I had to work on her character development in my second writing stage a lot more. A couple months later, I went back + reread a few bits from my novel + realized there were more flaws than strengths.
Here Are 5 Reasons Why I Think My Manuscript Was Not a Success:
- Dull Protagonist
- Cliché Language/Dialogue
- Hazy/Unclear Setting
- Uninteresting/Unoriginal Plot
- Lack of Emotion
Here’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes: just because you’ve written something you like or are even proud of, does not mean it’s going to be well received by others. If you’re going to work in this industry, you have to be ready to be met with rejections + willing to work on your skills. Though I love to write stories + ideas are always popping into my head, I have to work on my writing a bit more than established authors. The Ugly Princess didn’t stand a chance among my competition because I didn’t treat the project like my baby. I didn’t take the time to water it + nurture it as I’m doing on my current project, one I’ve been working on for the past two years. There were times I was so blinded by fame + wanting recognition, I didn’t take the time to push the manuscript to its fullest potential because I didn’t want to have to wait for the reward. Even as I reminisce, I myself realize I don’t even connect with my own protagonist. She + I have nothing in common! That was because I didn’t include enough authenticity into her character, which is why she came across as dull + unlikable. Plus, the setting of the novel was in seventeenth century Spain, which I didn’t know too much about + again didn’t research enough of Spain’s culture to offer a true, flushed out story.
I’ve come to realize if I ever want to be published, I’ve got to do things the right way + not rush.
Here Are 3 Steps I’m Taking To Give My Current Manuscript A Fighting Chance:
- Reading Books to Study the Craft
- Participating in a Critique Group
- Investing in a Freelance Editor
What’s the benefit to all of the above? You’re constantly receiving feedback on what’s working + not working with your project. While you should always have a beta reader or two read your work + offer their opinion, I think you could go even farther by hiring an editor to help you with the line edits + over all development of your story. I haven’t yet done this, but as you can see, it’s a part of my new plan. You can have all the potential in the world + still waste it. Heck, even Mozart still had to study. My critique group has been so helpful. Their honest feedback is what’s led me to make changes for the better. Changes that take time.
So, keep dreaming, but do so in a realistic way. Set goals + timelines for yourself to keep you on track. Of course, always do what you love + love what you do.
Morgan T. Jackson