As always, I have the same apologies and the same excuses for my absence. I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing it by now, and frankly, I’ve realised that it is a terrible idea to try and ensure that this blog updates regularly. It won’t. It never will, in all likelihood. I’m just trying to do my best.
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Anyways, this post is just to talk about what’s happening in my writing life. Mostly, it’s writing, writing, writing, and more writing, but I’m currently also in the phase that is the second-most-important (after writing): querying.
Currently, I am unpublished and struggling my way through the querying stage. And struggling is very much the appropriate word here, at least in my case. I have never been good at rejection, I’ve never been good at being denied. But those are the two things that are guaranteed to happen to you, for potentially years and years on end, when you’re a querying author, aka you’re trying to find either an agent to represent your book or a publisher or press to buy it. I’m mostly focusing on agents, just because legalese and contracts are… not my strongest suit, and I would much rather have someone on my side who knows what’s actually happening in that regard.
So. How do you deal with getting rejection after rejection after rejection, especially if you’re a sensitive little thing like me, a part of whom can’t help but take such things a little bit personally?
Well, the first thing you absolutely HAVE to do is detach yourself from your book. Yes, it’s your precious little word-baby. Yes, you’ve been working on it for who the hell even knows how long now (although, if it’s either the only thing you’ve written ever or the only thing you’ve written in years and years, write something else, damn). But no agent that you’re sending it to has ever seen it before, and they do not have the same attachment to your book that you do. They cannot understand all of the background information and continuity you’ve built up in your head and not on the page. All they can see are the words that you send them, and it’s perfectly possible that they won’t like those words for any number of reasons.
There are a lot of ways to make certain that your query letter will pop and your first few pages will stand out. I am, clearly, not the most qualified person in the world to list those; for that, conduct a simple Google search and I guarantee you’ll find a million mentors more competent than me. I can, however, tell you how to react to receiving a rejection, which will happen a lot. A lot a lot. My most recent, best, and favourite book, which I started sending out a couple months ago, has already racked up fourteen rejections, which is close enough to zero that I can hardly claim a right to complain. I’m expecting dozens more before anyone displays any interest whatsoever in my book.
I’m not saying this to discourage you– far from it. This is just meant to temper your expectations. My first ever submission for the first book I had ever written was rejected, and I spent a solid three days crying about it afterwards. It took me almost a year to send anything to anyone again.
That is not how you do rejections, people. Not at all. The way I think about it now (this is cheesy, but oh well) is that each rejection brings me one step closer to acceptance. I figure there’s a certain amount of rejections I need to go through, and I don’t know how many it is, and it varies from person to person, but eventually, I’ll go through the number and someone will say yes. Who, how, or when? Don’t know. But at some point, it’ll happen.
And that brings us to the most important part of querying and of handling your inevitable rejections– persistence. It doesn’t have to be a brave, noble, head-held-high sort of persistence. Goodness knows I’ve been moaning and groaning since day one of submissions. What’s important is that you keep. Going. Keep submitting, keep editing, keep collecting those rejections, and above all, KEEP. FUCKING. WRITING. Whatever you do, whatever people say, the only way to guarantee your eventual big-market book sale is to keep improving your craft and sending out queries. And to do either of those things, you. Need. To. Write.
I know this has been kinda long and very ramble-y, and I’m sorry about that, just like I’m sorry about the long pause that preceded this and the pause that I’m sure will follow. I’ll do my best to update as much as I can, but, y’know, depression and chronic illness are jerks, and so we’ll see how it goes. But the general takeaway from this whole mess is this: whatever you do, just keep writing.