The Writing Blues

Literary-agent-LLToday I will send in my sequel of WAKING AMY to my publisher for review. Well, 50 pages of it. Which is pretty much all I’ve got done. I will have to admit that since I’ve began writing seriously (fall of 2012), it’s been a lonely process. It consists of me, a computer, and a connection to the internet. I feel as though I live in some sort of vacuum, or maybe a box.

In the beginning I was happy just to write down all the stories that were swirling around in my head like a tornado. Capturing all the dialogue of my characters I heard in my sleep. Then, I queried a few of them. I got a mixture of rejections and a handful of requests. My world was lighting up like a fourth of July firework show. Actual agents were reading my work and asking for more! Then came the one-worded “pass”, or the advice to become more sensory activated. Which I did, by the way, but no one wanted to give me another shot at it. Oh, I see, so you pinpoint the problem, I fix it, but now the moment’s passed, never to be retrieved. What a bummer.

I suppose all the lights have dimmed for me since I’ve never found an agent to help me champion my work. It’s just me and a send button. Maybe all writers (pre-publication) goes through the writing blues. I’m not sure since it’s my first rodeo. And, never having an agent, I’m not sure how much they participate in the writing phase. All I know is that since the party of receiving my contract for WAKING AMY, it’s been quiet on the enthusiasm front. Well, except for the occasional interrogation of friends asking when my book is coming out. And, then of course, I do have my friend who is currently reading it. I get really jazzed to hear her comments and excitement over the story direction.

So, maybe I’m disillusioned about a literary agent. Maybe, they just find you the contract and slip away into the night. Still, I search weekly for one to partner up with me in the representation of my works. Maybe it’s just not in the cards, though. I’ve exhausted all of my query opportunities and now, perhaps when they see my name on the email, they just chuck it.

Onward to the sequel of WAKING AMY. I never wrote it with the intention to carry on, but somehow my publisher sees a few more in Amy’s future. At first I sat there, staring at the wall wondering what more possibly Amy could add, but now it’s become quite a fun challenge. It’s sort of like a soap opera, with more characters and more plot twists. I think I’m loving it. Even from my box of one:)


“Are You My Agent?” A Writer’s Perspective on Querying

catSo, you’ve just finished eighty or so thousand words, or as Hemingway described it, you sat down at your typewriter and bled them out. It took you months, maybe even years to get just the right tone, pacing, and dialogue. And, now you’re ready to get someone’s opinion about how they sound on paper.

You choose someone kind at first. This manuscript is, after all, your little bundle of joy. You remember when it began as just a few pages, then stretched into chapters, before the labor pains came of conflicts, climax, and resolution. Now, who would you entrust with something so dear to your heart to tell you it was the most magnificent thing they’ve read, perhaps since Wuthering Heights. Of course, your mom and Aunt Frieda! And, wouldn’t you know it, they do love it. After four thumbs up, you think you can take it to press. But, wait, maybe your mom and Aunt Frieda aren’t enough. Maybe you need a few more beta testers. Ones that aren’t biologically linked to you. So, you find a few people at your work. Throw them a copy and tell them to hold nothing back. You wait. A few grueling weeks after you checking in daily on their progress and they give you word that it’s a great story. Fine. Just what you wanted to hear. Now to the next step; Querytracker. A writer’s best resource for finding an agent.

You locate the site, do your research, and find the second top five agents you’d want to query. You know to reserve the first five for whatever you have to change with the comments of the second best five. So, you do your research, write and re-write your query, add in a few sprinkles of personality that you aren’t indeed a robot, and send it over. Now, it’s time to burn up the refresh button on your computer and/or phone. You unsubscribe to all the retail sites, just so your phone doesn’t ‘ding’ for false positive results of a query response, and wait. And, wait.

Finally, you get it. Actually, you don’t even have to open the email. You see enough of the message on the screen not to have to injure yourself any further with opening it up full page…”Not for me.”

“Not for me?” That’s it? What exactly was it? The premise, the character description, the name of the hero that would eventually save the day? What is not for them?

You wait…there’s another query response. “…it’s a subjective business, and I just didn’t like it.” Okay, it didn’t exactly say that, but that’s what I read into it. And, I appreciate it. Yeah, it is a subjective business. Not everyone likes things that other people like. So, you didn’t like it. It’s a little better than “not for me.”

So, you don’t hear anything from the other three agents and you get to work on re-writing your query and/or your first five pages of your manuscript. You send out the fresh words to five more lucky contestants. But, wait, you want to up the ante. It’s becoming less personal and more like a crap shoot. Anyway, you want more feedback…so, you send it to ten more. And, wait.

Finally, a winner! Not actually that someone wants you under contract, but someone takes the time and writes exactly what your problem is. Hallelujah!  Now, you’ve got something. They tell you that you’re telling and not showing enough, or that you try and explain too much. Now, you can work with that. And, you do. You go right to work and spend the next few weeks re-tweaking the first fifty pages. You even pay a freelance editor to double check your work.

You pick a few more agents, hoping that you could reel back the other submissions and change them first, and send out the new and improved. Afterwards, it might be that you get a partial or two with the changes. Something that keeps the ventilator pumping air into your lungs. But, nothing else. It goes no further.

In the end, you feel you did things by the book. You wrote a manuscript that passed the likes of both friends and strangers alike, you researched the market, formulated the right agent for your genre, and read up on the etiquette for querying. After all, it’s something of a mafia. You can’t ever email them back about the rejection, ask questions about improving, and you can’t re-query when you’ve made the appropriate changes.

So, you push the blue-eyed, blushing baby, that everyone gushed over and told you would go to the best seller’s list, back into the drawer and sharpen your pen for the next one. You continue to write because you have to. But, still you wonder…am I the Anne Frank of my genre and someone will one day see the injustice. Or, am I the American Idol contestant that should’ve stayed singing in the shower and not come to auditions.