Happy New Year! I bet you are full of resolutions for 2012. That’s a very good thing. But you are still incredibly frustrated with what you feel was your lack of progress in 2011 to get an agent and get published because 2011 was going to be your year, right?
Maybe you sent out some queries to agents and you got very excited when you got responses. You even got some requests for partials and even fulls. But still you didn’t get a contract. And you feel a bit like a loser.
Welcome to the loser club. It’s a very exclusive group that includes all of the authors that you’ve ever admired. You don’t believe me. Fine. You can be deluded and imagine that you are the only loser-almost-published-almost-agented-writer on the planet.
Because I’m going to tell you that if you spent time researching agents and sent out queries, you are awesome. It’s hard to do that. And brave and you did it. And even if you got completely rejected, you stepped out there. And if you got requests for partials and fulls, then wow, I’m really impressed. That’s a true achievement because agents get thousands of manuscripts in their in-box and they really don’t have time to read something unless it shows promise. So congratulations! And if you didn’t send anything out after polishing it and workshopping it a kazillion times because you afraid, then what are you waiting for? 2012 is your time to take a dive into the deep.
What? You don’t want to feel like a loser or rejected. Good–that means you are human and probably have some aptitude to write fiction, poetry or creative non-fiction.
As you know, it’s a very competitive market and agents act as gatekeepers. And it’s incredibly frustrating when you know you have a wonderful manuscript (you do) and the gatekeepers aren’t opening up the gate. Those gates must be made of iron (and probably electrified) because they apparently are very heavy and require a committee of people to do so. Often the reasons the gates pry open to only snap shut (and pinch your finger) are capricious. Such and such agency already have x number of contemporary YA novelists in their stable etc. Sometimes the first really good marketable manuscript you pen can get snapped up right away, but sometimes, it’s your second or third that is one that makes those guardians at the gate open up.
Some of us do walk right into the agented OK Corral right away, but lots of us don’t. I didn’t. I applied to my first agent three times before she welcomed me with open arms. Did she ever read the other two manuscripts that I sent her previously? No! What happened to me was that she changed assistants. See what I mean about capricious? My current agency generally takes people after they have published several books (although this policy could be changing as policies always change), and so I moved to them after I had published four. Once again was I really better? Maybe. Maybe not.
The fact that you are frustrated means that you want something really badly. Wanting is a powerful thing. It will propel you toward the doing. And I hope that you will be drawn to the doing because writing is something that you love; it gives you joy and the hope needed to create your story. Your own writing makes you laugh or cry or cringe in fear at the suspense. It makes you feel. It moves you in some way. And you want it to be born as a book to move others.
You are so talented. You can do this. Yes, you’ve been zapped by the electric fence. Your fingers have been pinched. But that will make you stronger. Your skin will grow thicker–but you don’t want it too thick, right? That’s what makes you a writer. You are observant and sensitive –those are dear qualities in a writer. So love your thin skin, but also trust that you can handle the hurt, as well as handle the joy.
Happy New Year!
p.s. the awesome photo was taken by the very talented Alyssa Murkin. Check out her flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/alyssa_paige/