Hard Work

Once upon a time in my Harry Potter fandom days, my friends and I were planning an event that required four of us to play the heads of the various Hogwarts houses. The others agreed, as if it were a foregone conclusion, that I would be the head of Hufflepuff.
I was a bit taken aback at their matter-of-factness. But then I considered the choices:

“You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;

You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;

Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.”
(from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. New York: Scholastic, 1997)

I could see their point about Slytherin – I was too naïve to be called “cunning”. No, naïve has a negative connotation. Let’s say “earnest”.

Brave Gryffindor? No, definitely not me. In fact, the one and only time I played Dungeons and Dragons, my character was the sole survivor – but only because when the Dungeon Master would ask me how my character would respond to say, a dragon attack, my answer was usually, “Scream like a little girl and go hide behind that boulder.” I am relatively certain that I could turn into a Mama Bear and do amazing, brave things if my child were threatened. But the rest of you are probably on your own.

Ravenclaw? Surely, “those of wit and learning” fits little old me, who loves books and libraries and would be a perpetual student if I could.

“No,” my friends told me. “You’re one of the hardest working people we know. You keep your head down and keep going no matter what. That’s Hufflepuff.”

Despite the fact that some people see Hufflepuffs as a “lot o’duffers” according to Hagrid, I embraced the label.  So it was amusing to me when my book deal with HarperTeen was announced on Tuesday, and my agent, Steven Malk, tweeted the following about it:

There it is again. Not lyrical writing, not stupendous talent – what he emphasized is what a hard worker I am. (I should mention that, having done through three detailed rounds of revisions with me, Steve’s no slouch in the hard work department either.) But I guess it says something about me that I took this as a giant compliment. Because one thing I have learned the hard way in the 10+ years I have been trying to break into YA publishing is that all the talent in the world won’t do you any good if you are not willing to put in the work – hours of butt-in-chair, kill-your-darlings work.

As wonderful as it has been to bask in the glow of the announcement, I am trying to keep the above in mind. Because I have months of revision ahead, so the hard work is not over. And even after the book is published, there will be more work to do, promoting this one and writing and revising the next, and the next, and the next.

Good thing I’m a Hufflepuff.

This entry was posted in On Writing, Sword and Verse, Works in progress, Young Adult Fantasy. Bookmark the permalink.

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