Holding on to the Moxie
1: energy, pep 2: courage, determination 3: know-how
I was sixteen when I came across the word “moxie” in a Dean Koontz book (The House of Thunder, if you really want to know). I remember rolling the word over my tongue and filing it away for the future. Moxie. I liked it. It was something I wanted to have.
It conjured up mental images of someone who strode through life. Someone who wasn’t afraid to take chances and who was determined to try even if the odds were stacked against her—heck, maybe because the odds were stacked against her.
Sometimes, if I reached hard enough, it felt like my fingers could skim the word. When I decided I would write a novel—instead of, you know, just dreaming about it—it felt like I had become moxie personified.
It felt like nothing could stop me.
No matter how many hours it took and no matter how often I read that the odds of getting an agent— let alone a book deal—were on par with winning the lottery, I had faith. I knew that it would somehow happen (in hindsight that may less have been an example of a sixth sense and more an example of being delusional). I finally had my dose of moxie.
Then the book sold.
And doubt—which had been my companion for far more years than moxie had—started to settle in. What if everyone at KTB had all eaten bad takeout and were delusional when they bought my book? What if I let my editor (who I adored) down? What if my agent (who I also adored) had second thoughts about taking me on? What if everyone laughed when the book came out? What if only ten people bought the book and those ten people all left one-star reviews on Goodreads?
My friends and family tried to reassure me. My agent tried to reassure me. My editor was nothing but awesome and supportive. Deep down, though, that doubt gnawed at me.
And then, one afternoon, when I was worrying about revisions, I confessed to my agent that it never seriously (and we’re talking seriously as opposed to the occasional moments of doubt that even the most confident people get) occurred to me that the book wouldn’t happen, that I always had faith I would get an agent and it would sell.
Smart little agent that she is, she filed the story away and then slipped it into the conversation the next time I sounded stressed.
For some reason, hearing my own words paraphrased back at me had the effect of a switch being flipped. I didn’t just remember how it felt to feel that way; as we talked, I started feeling that way again. I felt calmer, more certain that I was on the right path and that this wasn’t some sort of universal fluke. I had my moxie back (and I really wanted to listen to “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” from the Kill Bill Soundtrack).
So I guess my lesson for this year (and the one I would pass on to anyone reading this) is to hold onto your moxie. There will be days when it’s hard to find, but you do have it. As soon as you made that leap from “someday I’d like to try and write a novel” to actually putting wordage on paper you proved that you had moxie in spades.