| Friday, May 25, 2012
Today's Tune: Loose Ends

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.


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...


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 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?


{ Rachel } at: May 25, 2012 at 7:01 AM said...

I did a lot of %$#@freaking out when I was querying. Mostly because I got a lot of requests (fulls, partials, mostly fulls) and then ALL. REJECTIONS. with no explanation! It was so frustrating. Finally I got a response back with feedback and suddenly I knew where this novel needed to go. And now I'm revising... I knew that either way I was going to pull this from the querying trenches because something wasn't working. Why was it getting all these full requests and no feedback? Why were top agents requesting it but then rejecting it hours later? etc. I now realize it is because my book was a first draft-ish (one day I will write a blog post about this!), and it needs/needed a lot of work. :)

But yea how I kept 'chill' during the query trenches? I queried during that kept me busy enough with 5 classes :-P

{ Madigan McGillicuddy } at: May 25, 2012 at 7:53 AM said...

I'm not a writer, but I've heard that the best way to chill to start working on another project. Seems to make sense.

{ TL Conway } at: May 25, 2012 at 11:54 AM said...

I have no concept of the brain freeze that's ahead when I finally start to query, but when I do, I'll be back here for some advice. :)

{ Dracula } at: May 25, 2012 at 2:33 PM said...

I chill by cracking open the skulls of my enemies and reducing them to wailing piles of anguish.

But seriously, the old "write something else!" adage doesn't work for everyone, including me, who cannot summon enough focus to begin work on another project while the first is on submission. At least, not for the first month or two. After that, it sort of fades to cheery background noise, an extra heartbeat or a catch in the lungs, and it's mostly but not quite all right.

Also, the person you may believe to be your "dream agent" isn't always the person who actually is your "dream agent." Case in point: I queried a guy who was looking for the book I was writing. Literally. The book I was writing matched his description of what he was looking for to perfection. I then found out that he represents three authors whom I absolutely adore. So, armed with cheerful confidence, I shot him a personalized query mentioning all these details. The next day, I checked my inbox and found an email from him, and I grew certain he was going to offer representation on the spot. Dear Author.

A week later, I signed with a woman I'd queried almost as an afterthought. She's beyond amazing. I feel truly humbled and honored to be her client.

So, see? It never always works out, but sometimes it works out better than always.

{ We Heart YA } at: May 29, 2012 at 1:46 PM said...

Oh, we haven't figured out how to chill yet. (Although we will say that querying for your first project seems more emotional than querying for your second.) If anyone knows the secret, please share!

{ Joanne Guidoccio } at: May 30, 2012 at 8:05 PM said...

I am just starting to query, so I will need to develop some effective strategies for chilling. I can't see myself starting another novel. What I will do instead is focus on shorter pieces--book reviews and articles.

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