Friday, July 23, 2010

Do the Thing You Fear and the Death of Fear is Certain

Writing a full length novel is difficult at best, impossible for many, and downright insane for most. Writers take on hours of solitude and angst over storylines or characters. We brood over scenes we love, but don't need. We tinker and revise and polish until we feel ready to...revise again. Most people spend years in this loop. They never feel ready to show their work. They're afraid its not perfect.

Then there is the query. Does it reveal too much or too little? Will the agent "get" my story idea; will they love the characters like I do? We cut and paste and show it to our blog buddies. We stare at the one page we're allowed to send. Our hopes go will go with this one-page herald...our sweat and tears. But you have to send it, for it to do any good. My old writers group had a lady that spent months on a query she never sent out. Her reason? She was afraid if she took that step, the one that opened her up to rejection, that the result would be devastating. She loved writing. She didn't want to quit. Fear.

Proposals are hard to put together. There’s market analysis and author bios to wrangle into place. We have to include marketing ideas and why we're qualified to write this particular book. Its intimidating. It can seem overwhelming. Then there are the three chapters or the fifty pages we're allowed to send. They must be perfect, so we go back to our revision loop and agonize over every adverb and comma. We're afraid they won't ask for more.

Waiting, for me, is the hardest part of writing. Waiting to hear back on the queries I sent. Waiting to hear back from my proposal packages. Waiting. Waiting. Will they want the full manuscript? Have I missed their email? What if they all say no? Do I keep writing this series? This genre? Fear.

Then you get an agent and it all starts again. He sent your proposal out to the editors and now we're waiting again. What if you get too many rejections? Will you be dropped by the agency? Will they keep trying? Should I write something vastly different to show my range?

Say you're picked up by the publisher...will they spend enough on marketing? What if you don't sell like they wanted? The list goes on and on and on...And yet we do it anyway. We type and fret and hope desperately.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Because to not write is the worst thing I can imagine. To not slip into that wonderful world that blinks to life when my fingers hit the keys would mean a life less extraordinary. Fear may cause me to hesitate, but never to turn back. I encourage all of you to send out your queries and proposals. Give them a kiss and slip them through the mail slot...the worst that could happen is you never did it.

Another compelling character waits on the fringes of your mind to be written; another world. This one comes more easily...the story more vivid. Glance over your shoulder at the fear you shed and trampled on the road to better things....Now Go Write!

Photograph by The 5th Ape.


Roland D. Yeomans said...

The ghost of Mark Twain thanks you for using his quote for the title of his post.

Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting. What you think means a lot to me.

Writing is a waiting game for sure. Even when a publisher buys your novel, you have to wait a year for it to be printed. And then you wait for the sales figures to come in to give you a hint whether or not the publisher will want to purchase a second novel from you.

Whew! A lot of waiting, Roland

Martin said...

I read that a publisher gonna comes out the "uncut" Twain's autobiography. Great.
And yes I am agree with what you write about polish and revise, polish and revise !
There's no marketing bias here, but yes one day we have to let our manuscrit and give it to the editor. And wait. But it's not so bad for me, because I know that my editor will give advices and thought (ok I am a little afraid that she doesn't like at all my novel). It's a way for me to forget my novel and to find it later with a fresh look.

Donna Hole said...

As far as discouragement goes Raquel, this is a soft blow (lol).

Just too true.

And make me wonder: do you have another novel out in query/editor land? And those books on your side bar - they are published right? Available for purchase?

But, there are less fulfilling ways to spend your down time!