Loose EndsToday's Tune:
I'm going to write a post that I really wish I'd had to read when I was preparing to query (and in the midst of querying), even though I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have helped THAT much. Even so, it might have helped a teensy bit.
YOU MUST CHILL.
I know (oh God believe me I know) that it's incredibly difficult to let loose this thing you've been working on for months, possibly years, into the wild. To feel absolutely terrified that no one will like it, that people will HATE it and tell you they hate it, that all that work and hope and excitement was for nothing.
In my experience, querying writers have this habit of turning into tightly-wound balls of anxiety who pick apart every little interaction for some semblance of meaning. They fret about making the tiniest error, like a little slip-up will cost them their one shot at glory. It's a loss of control, albeit not the highest loss of control (like being on submission HHHNNNNGGGG). When the story's still living in your head and on your hard drive, it's yours. You can protect it, change it, make it better and better. Once it's out in the world, that feeling of control evaporates. Even so...
YOU MUST CHILL.
I don't want to give platitudes about how you have to write for yourself and you should never put your hope and heart behind one book, because I think we all know that's a lot easier said than done. Yes, we suck it up and keep pressing on, but that doesn't make it any less painful to go through. Still, we have this nasty habit of wearing our fingers to the bone wheedling at QueryTracker and our email account and forums and agent profiles and anything else we can use to try and uncover some kind of concrete answer. And it's a fruitless endeavor. You can't make this process faster. You can't find the reasons behind every rejection. You can only breathe and keep on keepin' on.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
You WILL be rejected. It will happen. You have to accept this. You might be rejected once, or a dozen times, or a hundred times. You can't control it. Even if you write the next work of beautifully staggering genius, agents and editors are going to reject you. It's okay. It means you're getting your work out there. CHILL.
You will not be able to understand why the rejections happen. You can't narrow it down to accidentally forgetting to include an attachment the first time or signing your email incorrectly. You will send flawless queries to agents that sound like the absolute perfect fit, and they will still say no. Stressing over the "why" isn't going to change their answer. Let the sting in, wallow a little, and press on. CHILL.
You have to focus on what you CAN control, not what you can't. I totally understand the compulsion to check your email constantly and try to decipher every Tweet. I've been there. All it does is make you feel like a giant bag of stress. You can't control the whens, hows, or whys. You CAN control your manuscript. You CAN control sending out new queries. You CAN control working on a new project. Regain your sense of control through those means. CHILL.
YOU. MUST. CHILL.
You have to find whatever way you can to feel like you're not coming apart at the seams. The struggling author who goes through their painful paces is kind of romanticized, even though it's really not fun to go through. It's difficult not to wig out about every little thing, but for the sake of our stress levels, we have to try.
How do you chill out when you're in the trenches of querying or submission?