As most of you know, and a lot of are in the same place as me, I'm searching for an agent. And by searching, I mean pesting people over email and obsessing with every detail of submission and after looking and looking and looking again and hitting send, immediately finding four mistakes that could end in an auto-response no and near to begging but hoping I'll be strong enough when that first offer comes in to say no if it's crap...yeah, that's what I mean.
I'm waiting for that first book to be published. I'm ready for the moment when people say "You're a writer?" And I can say "Yes, I wrote "The best thing you've ever read this week until the next great thing comes along." As it stands now the conversation goes like this:
"You're a writer?"
"Yes. I mean..I write. I'm trying to write. I have a publisher who offered to publish me...but I'm looking for an agent..because I know about the writing part...but I don't know about the business side...I mean, I don't know...I'm a writer? Yes. I mean...yes, I wrote a book." The last part is usually mumbled into a coffee cup or a glass of wine as I attempt to drown myself in its contents, and I don't mean metaphorically.
First off, why do I ask the person who asked me if I'm a writer if I'm a writer? Because I'm insane - that much is obvious. But the baser truth is that I'm terrified to tell anyone that I'm a writer in case I never get published. No failure if no one knows, right???(Hold on, I'm calling myself a coward... Okay, I'm back. )
Second - I know about the writing part? NO. I don't. But does anyone? It's doubtful. But I am learning and getting better everyday. I research. I write. I rewrite. I tell stories. I build cities and places and people and events with words. And I do need an agent because I don't know anything about the things they do. I mean, I wouldn't expect them to be able to come in and do my job, so where do I have any room to be arrogant enough to assume I could do their voodoo. (If you had read that last paragraph before I fixed, you would agree I need an editor too!)
So what's the major problem here?
First - there's the irrational fear.
Does it really matter if I get published?
To the ones who love me? No, not really.
To me? Yes. Yes it does. A great deal in fact.
To the world? Maybe. I hope so.
But really I think it comes down to two things - self doubt and perseverance. I need to eliminate the self-doubt. Not in a 'Hey, I'm the greatest thing and I'm so great that my words grace the page like gold and diamonds and you're an idiot for not recognizing this' but more in a 'Hey, that wasn't total crap' type of way. Even in a "Wow. I wrote that? Hell yeah!"
I need to not tear myself down when I get a rejection letter. Right now, it means a couple days of moping, thinking my story isn't good enough, I suck as a writer...blah, blah, blah. What is should mean is that I need to look over my query letter, get some beta readers, look over the story one more time. Is there a hole? Is there a hook? Can they pronounce all the names in my MS? Did I start every third sentence with "And then, suddenly..."???
For the second thing - I can stick with something. That's not the issue. What I need to do better...wait! A moment of clarity! (See? Wine Fridays are awesome!) It's not just about perseverance...it's about trust!
I must trust myself more. I'm so convinced that I'm a dancer that I couldn't possibly be a good writer too! I want to write like this person and in this genre and tell this story...but that's already there. I read a thousand how-to write and query and get agented and all that - and I will continue, you can always learn - but what I should really do is stay my path.
I feel like I don't fit into the molds already cut so I keep folding myself at weird angles and mush my story into the holes already made. But what I should be doing is sticking to my guns and making a new damn mold! I don't need to be like the others. I need to be myself, since I'm positive, and I know by looking at the pile of rejection letters, that's something that has never been published...yet.
*side note* I've been sitting on this post for two days and I discovered two things since then - one, I don't think my book is in the genre I've been querying. I've been trying to make it fit, but that's not really the story I want to tell. You see the potential problem here right? And second, my pile of rejection is quite short compared to most published authors so I haven't really been as brave as I should either. So I'll get on those two things and get back to you!