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Author to Student Writers: ‘Do It Because You Love It’

It can be a looooong way from when the first sentences are written to when a completed novel hits the shelves. Publishing is a journey often wrought with rejection and lots of revision, said MarcyKate Connolly, author of fantasy books for middle-grade and young adults.

“If there’s anything I want you to take with you today it’s that writing is rewriting,” Connolly told about 50 Lee Middle-High School students who attended the session because they have an interest in writing.

Connolly talked about the roadmap to publishing, which she learned by writing her books “Monstrous” and “Ravenous,” tales geared toward tweens that have been likened to Frankenstein and the Brothers Grimm.

Connolly, of Boston, made a stop at Lee while visiting Grand Rapids Comic-Con, the popular event where sci-fi, fantasy and comic book fans gather. She explained the quest of a writer, including spending many hours in her “writing cave,” the challenge of finding an agent to represent the book, the experience of rejection and the work that continues after a book is accepted for publishing.

MarcyKate Connolly signs a book for the Lee Middle-High School media center
MarcyKate Connolly signs a book for the Lee Middle-High School media center

And finally, the thrill of seeing the book at stores and in the hands of others.

A marketing professional by day, Connolly said her love for writing and storytelling kept her going despite more than 300 rejections from publishers. She wrote several books that were never published and received her first offer for publishing after four years of trying.

“Publishing is not something you get into thinking you are going to get rich quick or going to be a mega bestseller overnight,” she said. “You do it because you love it.”

Connolly had to re-assess her goals, at one point. “Why am I doing this to myself?” she recalled asking after getting rejection after rejection. So she continued writing for herself, making up the stories and characters she loved.

Kelly McGee, Godfrey-Lee district media specialist, said Connolly’s visit helped students think about writing as a career and the process of becoming an author. He said he hopes to start a student writer’s group. “I think we have a lot of writers here.”

He said he also wanted students to leave with the message that perseverance is required for accomplishing your dreams.

Connolly’s books were published through HarperCollins Publishers. Her next book, “Shadow Weaver,” is scheduled for release in winter 2018.

She encouraged students to find their “tribe” — other writers they can use for empathy, feedback and critique. And no matter how many failed attempts, she urged students to look at it as getting somewhere.

“Whatever words you write are not wasted,” she said.

Freshman Olivia Clark, who loves writing, said Connolly’s words resonated. “Don’t give up. You’ve got to be strong. There are harsh people out there.”


MarcyKate Connolly

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


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