Sunday, June 8, 2014

Struggles of the Querying Writer (And Where to Go From Here)

I'm currently in the query trenches, and if you haven't been there before, it's pretty intense.


Every time I send another query, there are so many feelings coursing through me. Every time. I thought after sending the first couple, things would calm down, but each one feels just as intense and important as the last. And truly, they are. THIS could be the query that grabs the agent that eventually becomes MY agent. This query might go to a person meant to fall in love with my story and my goals as a writer. This next query could lead to a partnership with someone who will sell my ideas into actual books I can hold in my hands.

So, yeah, kind of a big deal.

I will say, when I received my first form rejection I didn't feel the sting. It was more of a realization that I am a REAL WRITER, and I have been rejected like all great writers before me. It was almost like a rite of passage. For so long I have hidden my work away from others for fear of all the things they might not like about it. Now I am putting my work out there for professionals to judge, and being rejected is expected. No, it should really be a requirement. If there is anything I have learned about the publishing industry in the past few months, it's that this is a world of subjectivity. The one form rejection you receive could happen right before a full request comes in. Some will love your idea and some will hate it. Some will think it is too familiar of a story line whereas others will see where the uniqueness of your plot shines.

Once you enter the querying trenches and you start receiving requests, it is mostly time to just lay low and wait for the feedback.

Now What?

Now that I'm querying, what is the next step for my writing? Well, as many other writing blogs and advice will tell you, you need to write something new. That sounds like such an easy and obvious answer. Of course, I'm a writer, so while I wait I should start the next project, right?

But what should that project be? And how do I give it the attention it deserves?

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Okay, so I'm not really short on ideas at the moment. It is more of an issue of which one do I pick as THE ONE? What story will I start next while I wait for feedback on my manuscript that is out and about in agent land? This was a bit tough for me. I had a few ideas that rose to the top of the pile on what I might want to work on next, but none of them stood out as the ultimate next story for me to write.

And even though my previous novel is just sitting in agent inboxes waiting to be read, I still can't help but feel anxiety over it. I still can't help but want to read it over again and find things I might want to change in case ALL of the agents who have requested it say NO. I spent so much of my time and effort into that manuscript, it's really hard to tear my concentration away from it and onto a new project.

A few tips here:

1. Ask your critique partners or writing friends which story idea sounds more intriguing. 

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If you really don't have a preference or can't decide on which idea to pursue next, phone a friend! It isn't proven that your friends will always be right in choosing what the next best story is for you to write, but if four out of the five people you ask are more interested in one idea over the other, that might give you a boost of confidence in which story to tackle. 

2. Pick an idea different from your last manuscript. Some authors stick to a very strict type of story, and that is totally okay. But if you are having a hard time choosing your next venture, why not try something completely different? Change the point of view or tense, choose a new genre, or come up with a character completely different from your last MC. This can help broaden your writing abilities and make you capable of writing well in different styles.

3. Just start writing. This is the path I chose, and it really helped me. Before I did any intense research or outlining, I just started writing in the voice of the character in my mind for the few ideas that were stumbling around in my brain. Believe it or not, one particular voice would NOT shut up. I wrote 5,000 words of the opening within a few days (which for me is lightning speed because I'm a pretty slow writer). 


That seemed to tell me it was the next story I was meant to tell. I'm still working out the plot, but I think having the "voice" down is one of the most important aspects of a story, and I definitely have that.

No matter what I do, the requests I have out for my previous manuscript never leave my mind. Like, EVER. But starting something new definitely gives me an extra distraction...along with hoards of chocolate and spontaneous spending sprees on the internet. Eh, you win some you lose some.

What do YOU do to distract yourself from the clutches of the query trenches??

6 comments:

  1. I hear you, and it continues when you have an agent and you're on submission, waiting for editors to respond. When I find it hard to start a brand new novel, I write shorter pieces, essays, poems, etc. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks for the advice. I've never been good at shorter pieces ...although it could be a way to work toward a longer one by starting small and expanding!

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    2. I second this! I wrote a nonfiction book while on submission, because I just wasn't feelin' the fiction, and then the nonfic got an agent separately and sold before the fiction. I fiiiinally started writing the next book (and short stories).

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  2. I'm not really there yet but I know this will be the final revision before it goes out. I don't know how I will feel about it but I have already started the next one and halfway through the first draft. To keep going is all I can think of to do. I simply hope I'm not distracted by the anxiety when my firstborn is out in the publishing ether.

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    1. Wow, great job in having a second one already started! I have trouble enough focusing on one!

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  3. Some of the best advice I've read is to always be working on the next book - the waiting game never ends, and it's the best way to avoid going crazy!

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