Monday, November 14, 2011


Querying is grueling--even more than I expected. In my head, I thought I could make it fun by having  a personal contest with myself as to how many rejections I rack up. Turns out, not even that can make it fun. A rejection is still a rejection.

Here's where I'm at: 19 query letters (including two I sent this summer, which was, in retrospect, WAY too early). Two requests for full. (I can't help wondering: Are they just being nice?) Five definite NOs. (All but one were form rejections). Two probable nos (given that their posted response time has come and gone). A bunch of who-knows? Any more, given the ease of electronic submissions, many agents are so deluged by queries that they simply don't respond if they're not interested.

I've also decided to stop querying, for now. I got some good feedback from a writer friend that I need to think about and figure out how to implement to make the story better. Once I've finished that, I might consider querying again.

However, today has been one of those mornings. Even though my friend's feedback was overall positive on the concept and writing, her suggestions for the characters have temporarily floored me. I'm not sure how to increase the voice in my story. I thought I was already doing that.

Sometimes it's daunting to me to see the gap between where I want to be and where I'm at. When I used to have artistic pretentions, it was easy for me to look at my picture and see the gap between what was in my head and what was on paper. It's much harder for me to "see" that gap with writing--it's more of an intuitive thing. And it's a bit galling (and frightening) to figure out that after all these years of playing with words, I *still* don't know what I'm doing.

On the other hand, I can only get better with practice. Right? Right? (Sometimes I wonder).

In any case, I'm not quite ready to give up. But I am starting to feel that vast wasteland of writer's despair that only chocolate can assuage . . . Good thing DH bought those chocolate pretzels this weekend.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The query game

People told me querying was hard. I guess I just didn't get how hard it can be.

To put it in context, it feels a little bit like dating in high school (if you were like me, and didn't date much). You liked a guy, you hoped really hard he might like you, but most of the time all you got were some kind words and nothing else.

I kind of expected that in high school.

This kind of rejection, even though it's much less personal (after all, I don't have to see the agents who reject me), is in some ways harder. I always prided myself on being smart--and on being a good writer. After all, I make a living teaching writing, and it's the essays I wrote to get into college that helped me win the scholarships I had.

In other words, my identity is more vested in the idea of being good at writing than it was in being pretty. So to be rejected because my writing isn't quite right . . . it hurts.

The good thing is, this book won't be my only shot. I hope that there will be others. And the advice my mother gave me when I worried about being an old maid applies here too: "It only takes one."

In the meantime, I'm going to take solace in Kiersten White's stages of query grief.

Writers' blog

My writer's group is trying to start a writers' blog, here. We'll see how it goes--right now, I have high hopes for it!