Monday, March 26, 2012

Belief

Okay, sweet readers. I'm not usually a sap. At least, I like to think I'm not.
So, apologies in advance for this post.

I've been having kind of a weird experience with my querying novel, ONE, and I'm trying to figure out exactly what it is.

I'm having trouble letting it go. Like, really, really feeling okay with whatever happens to it.

I don't know if it has something to do with my rising number of (form) rejections - 38 to date - or the dwindling number of agents remaining on my "to-query" list.
I don't know if it's because I somehow keep navigating back to the playlist for the MS on Spotify - like, once, twice a week. (I know. It's BAD.)

With my first MS, The Travelers, I remember adjusting pretty quickly to the idea that it'd get put in the drawer. It took me a couple weeks, yeah, but even I could pick out some things that people might not like about the poor sweet thing. Plus, it was my first. Everyone knows firsts don't get published.

I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and started writing again. And, in six sweet months, out came a shined-up version of ONE.

I followed (most of) the YA "rules" - I wrote it in first person (first person present even!), I didn't include any love triangles, or main characters with red hair, there's no sex, not a whole lot of swearing, no preaching (of course,) no snark for snark's sake. There's no insta-love (after the second revision,) or insta-friends, or unflawed heroine. There are no absent parents, dead or otherwise, and no crushes from the best friend. It's not too long, it's not too short, it's in a genre that all the agents seem to be asking for.

Also, it's a good story. I think.

I revised and re-revised and re-re-revised and re-re-RE-revised the query.

The only thing left to think I did wrong is the writing itself.

Now, normally I'm pretty good at self-deprecation. For real. Ask my CPs.  I'll tell you any day I'm unattractive, or a bad friend, or a lazy mother. Definitely I assume myself dense a lot of times, and quite easily too.

I'll even tell you that what I wrote sucks.

Except, this time when I try to tell myself that?
That it must be the book, the whole darn thing, that's wrong?
I can't make myself believe it.
Well, I can. But only, like, 70%.
And that's not enough.


See, sweet readers,
- and if it was possible to think this thought in a whisper, I would - 
I think I believe in this MS.

I don't know why I think it should be pulled out of the slush over all the, well, SLUSH.
(In fact, I feel like a jerk even saying that.)

But....I do.

I don't know what this means. Right now, I don't think it means that I'll self publish the thing. But I also don't think I'll give up. In fact, even though I know it makes absolutely zero sense, I kind of feel like starting on TWO (yes, that's what the sequel would be called, no, I'm not kidding) after my current WiP starts querying.

 Is this normal? Am I not humble enough, or does this weird, unshakable belief in my work mean that I'm finally becoming A Real Writer?

Do you guys feel this way about some MS of yours, drawered, or querying, or in progress?


What do I do?
Do I try to get over it?
 Do I keep believing, but keep the belief tucked in the corner of my mind, where it occasionally floods me with longing, or sadness, or regret, even though there's nothing I think I could have done differently?
Or do I say, "Screw It, I'll do anything to pub this story," even after of 100% rejections, even with the voice in my ear saying, "Self publishing is for people who could get an agent, not people who couldn't?"

Your input greatly appreciated - right now, I'm vacillating between feeling silly and convicted, and it's an odd place to be.

28 comments:

  1. Um, this so does not make you sound like a pompous asshat.

    And if you don't believe in your own story, no one else ever will. I believe in my own story. There are people who have hundreds of rejections before the agent snags it. Also, there are great books that have been self-pubbed.

    Keep believing. Here's where I break into song: Don't stop - believing!

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    1. ((((hugs))))

      Oh, thank you! I was so worried.

      I guess I always believed in the stuff enough to write it, but it never really hit me that I actually really truly believed that it was worthy of being published. Not to say that it can't use some agent/editor editing...because that's certainly something I would expect to do....but, yeah. There it is.

      Thanks for the support. <3

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  2. Agreed - no pompous-asshatness here at all.:) In fact, I think this is pretty darn normal. Lots of good books don't get agents or publishers for a whole variety of reasons - timing, luck, subjectivity - and plenty of them have nothing to do with the quality of writing. But as long you keep trying and believing in what you write, it'll happen eventually.

    I know just how you feel too. Last week hit an unpleasant milestone with CYBORG: 100 rejections (which was quickly followed by 101, 102, and 103, just for good measure!). I've still got another 30 or so queries pending and several submissions, so all is not lost yet, but man, that a depressing day. I feel the way about CYBORG as you do about ONE. Total book love. I believe in it, and I've gotten lots of nice words from agents about it - just none that loves it enough to take it on. The excitement about my next book helps and there's no question I'll keep trying, but it doesn't quite lessen the sting.

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    1. MK, I've actually been thinking A LOT about you and CYBORG. Honestly, if there was ever an MS that was more apparent to me that it SHOULD be published...like, even just from your query letter I saw last fall in contests...it's CYBORG. And now that I've been lucky enough to read it....I wouldn't give up on it either. Not in a million years.

      I'm so sorry about 100 rejections. And if/when One hits that mark, I know I'll feel the same way.

      Anyway. Thanks for the comment, and you know where to find me. <3

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  3. To quote the Journey song: Dooon't stop beeeeeliiiieving! If you love your book, I'm sure there's someone else out there who will too.

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    1. Thank you so much, Miss Cole! Every bit of good vibes helps! <3 (And the extra oomph from Journey certainly doesn't hurt!)

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  4. Okay. Look at me. See that I'm on the tenth revision of a book that has been shot down by agents so many times (and with zero agent feedback) there shouldn't be anything left of it. I literally CANNOT let go of this story, even though I'm revising in the dark.

    So NO, I do not think you're crazy. Or a pompous asshat. I think it's completely normal to love and believe in a book so much that it's basically a part of you. The world inside that book is a world inside your head, and not visiting it every day is the most repulsive thought ever.

    Some people get lucky and get an agent on their first try. The rest of us have to be a little more resilient. And obviously you are. (Obviously.)

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    1. I actually couldn't STOP thinking of you when I was writing this post. And it's funny, because at the same time, I have no idea how you hold on to the TN trilogy, and I CANNOT FATHOM you ever giving up on it. I mean, just thinking that I'm going to be only one of a small handful of people to ever read about Amity and Damien and RORY OMIGOD RORY makes me want to throw up.

      You're right. Resilience. Gotta do it. And since you're one of my biggest writing role models (for real!) and YOU think I'm resilient? I'd better damn well live up to that.

      Delete
  5. Leigh Ann, you should BELIEVE in, and LOVE your story that much .. because if you don't, how can others? right?

    I say keep trying!! and, what about smaller publishing houses? they often do not require that you have an agent. you can send them you work directly. Something to consider :)

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    1. Right. :)

      I *am* considering just one small publisher now, one that I've been really impressed with. Problem is, they don't seem to be considering me. *grin*

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  6. Leigh Ann - Keep trying! Don't give up. I think that if we believe it's the One, then it will be the One. (. . .yeah I am also fond of bad puns lol) I think you should explore your options. Like Cristina above me, there are small presses etc. that take unagented authors. Have you looked at Entangled Press? etc. You are not a pompous asshat for believing this.
    I know so many different agent stories- A friend once queried a tome of a book (240,000 words) before realizing no one was going to want it and then spent the next 3 years revising it. She got an agent but it took a bit to get a book deal (almost a year). Now she's getting published in August. I know another friend of mine who sent out 4 queries and got an agent with the book, but she was on submission with the book for a year and it never sold. She then wrote a second novel while agented and that sold in a major deal. I also know people who have had agents and their agents leave, and they have to pick up the pieces. And then there are people whose books don't seem to sing to the mainstream audience but are still wonderful books and need a home... I think small presses are nothing to be ashamed of. :)

    Best<3

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    1. Rachel! Thanks for sharing all those stories. Inspirational, to be sure.

      I *have* queried Entangled, but haven't heard back...and I think they're no response means no. Too bad. :) I'm also planning to query Angry Robot when they reopen to subs in April.

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  7. Oh, Leigh Ann--pompous asshat for this?? You are silly. I think you SHOULD feel this way. Like others have said--if you don't believe in the story, who will? My first novel is on the shelf right now, and I just feel "meh" about it, but the one I'm currently working on...*shivers*...I honestly feel like it's The One. It's not even finished yet (and might have to be rewritten before then...meep!) but I still believe in it. I'll be completely heartbroken if it gets a million rejections, but I don't think the belief will go away. I think the best thing to do would be to write another story that you believe in just as much, but if you want to write TWO, then write TWO. Or maybe just give yourself a few hours one or two days a week to write TWO while you work on something else. I wish it wasn't so hard, but if you keep writing, you'll fall in love with a new story, too. <3 (And I agree that there are other options for ONE later on!)

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    1. It's funny, my story sounds just like yours. :) I fell in love with One from the first scene I wrote. Ahhhh, it feels so good.

      I'm not *quite* there with MS #3, but I think once I pull it all together and edit, edit, edit, it will be something I'm really excited about. But the love isn't coming at the front of this one. :?

      Anyway, thanks love. You rule.

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  8. I am sending you so much love right now L! ONE is a fantastic story, and it deserves to be out there, being loved and read by everyone. Don't you dare give up on it, even if you feel silly, even if you think you *should* feel like giving up. ONE has it's own path it will follow, and I think it's just going to take you along for the ride :)

    Exhaust your agent list, and if they're not interested, there are still a hundred other options to getting it out there. Success comes in all different forms. And meanwhile, I've had a horrific couple of weeks and I needed some serious comfort reads this weekend. Guess what I pulled out and re-read? Yeah. One has become one of my go-to books. That says something right there, lady.

    Believe in yourself, and in ONE. You both deserve it.

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    1. OMG. Way to make me weep, Jamie.

      I mean, are you freaking KIDDING me?

      Anyway. You hit the nail on the head. I do feel silly a lot of times for whispering sweet nothings into this MS's ear. But at the end of the day, I think it deserves it.

      Thanks for believing along with me. You are the greatest.

      Delete
  9. You SHOULD believe in it! It's not strange to feel that way at all. And honestly? 38? That's barely scratching the surface. Your perfect agent might very well be #39. I hear all the time about awesome books that were in front of 100, 200 agents before they found their match. And, especially these days, a lot of awesome books are also self-pubbed, if you decide to go that route. There are so many ways for books to get out there right now, and I don't think you should be anywhere close to giving up.

    I am SO excited you're thinking of starting on TWO!

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    1. Aw, Mags. Thanks. <3

      That's 38 forms, and almost as many radio silent. Haven't checked into how many are no response means no yet.

      I'll probably self-pub if it ever becomes more widely accepted. Right now, I'm still seeing a lot of "self-pubbing is for people who COULD get agents." So...yeah.

      And TWO will probably happen after Chrome. I need to write something just for fun, I think.

      Delete
  10. Of COURSE you're having a hard time letting go. You wrote something you love. You're proud of it. And when the message you get back time after time from agents is, "Sorry, this is not worth my effort"... well, that just HURTS. Especially when you see some of the stuff that HAS risen above the slush pile.

    But if we don't believe in our own books, we can't expect anyone else to. Right?

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    1. Yeah. And if one more person tells me to revise according to agent feedback, I will kill them. Because I would do that...if I HAD any agent feedback.

      But, yeah. Right. But I think it's the believing that hurts so much.

      Delete
  11. I think all querying writers go through this. I am in the same boat. I am querying TGT and I know it's a good story, right? It's my second and I really want it published. We have to keep going. And in today's market there are tons of choices. It's not agent or self-publish.

    And you are not an asshat for this! Totally normal hat. ;0)

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    1. It's so funny...I had no problem with doubting my first book, this one is just coming SO much harder.

      Worst case, it sits in the drawer and I can always pull it out again. Still not sure how I feel about most small publishers...but no, I'm not ruling anything out!

      Thanks for your comment. Wishing you a bit of sunshine and as little mud as possible in the query trenches. <3

      Delete
  12. Is this normal? Am I not humble enough, or does this weird, unshakable belief in my work mean that I'm finally becoming A Real Writer?
    yes, it's normal. you're definitely humble enough and your weird, unshakable belief is something that tells you that you Love what you wrote. I think it'd be weird if someone wrote something and didn't have this belief <3

    Do you guys feel this way about some MS of yours, drawered, or querying, or in progress?
    oh yeah. I have 3 other manuscripts I started but didn't finish/didn't revise. I love the ideas so much I know I'll never abandon them. I'll go back to them someday, just not right now.


    What do I do? Do I try to get over it?
    what you think is right :)don't try to get over it unless you think you should.

    Do I keep believing, but keep the belief tucked in the corner of my mind, where it occasionally floods me with longing, or sadness, or regret, even though there's nothing I think I could have done differently?
    yanno, I don't know if you'll always think you couldn't have done it differently. in five years, you'll be a different person and a different writer with a different perspective. you'll look at your story and you'll have different ideas. just like Chessie's able to somehow revise TN every year! maybe you just need time? maybe all this longing, sadness, and regret will translate into some kind of plan you can use to make ONE an even (impossibly) better book.

    Or do I say, "Screw It, I'll do anything to pub this story," even after of 100% rejections, even with the voice in my ear saying, "Self publishing is for people who could get an agent, not people who couldn't?"
    you SHOULD say you'll do anything to pub the story, just make sure it's the kind of pub you want.

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  13. I think it's awesome how strongly you believe in One. As others have said, if you don't love your book, how can an agent love it? That passion will translate, and it's definitely something to be admired.

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  14. I feel this way about mine. I'm not ready to quit. Unfortunately I wasted a bad ms/query on so many agents. I now feel the story/query is much better but that chance with those agents are gone.

    I have other stories waiting to be edited. And if my current one goes nowhere, I'll move onto the next. But if/when I get an agent, I would definitely go back to this first one because I do love it.

    Even though there are tons of horrible self-published books, there are so many great ones. I think self-publishing is sometimes for people who don't want to wait. They want their book out there now, not 2 years from now. For me, self-publishing is not an option yet. Maybe a few years down the road, but not now.

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  15. This post makes me want to give you a hug. Sigh...I've been there, I know.

    And I know it isn't what you want to hear, but 38 really isn't many. Some of my favorite authors were signed after many, many more than that. And, honestly, agent feedback is great, but more often than not hearing one person say "I can't connect with your MC" when you KNOW that your MC resonates with readers and then next say "I loved your MC, but the pacing was off" doesn't really help.

    I think you need to do what feels right at the time. If you need to keep querying, then do it. If you need a break, take it and give yourself a rest from the roller coaster (I did that and it helped immensely).

    Also...just a thought in a different direction. Check out Georgia McBride's new publishing house Month 9 (www.month9books.com/) if you haven't already.....

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  16. You shouldn't feel bad for believing in ONE! It's your creation and it's important!!! I feel this way about GOLDEN and am wresting with all these same feelings. I wrote it during a super dark three year period in my life (cancer/chemo/surgeries/depression) and when I lived through hell and finished the book, I thought, Wow! What now?

    And then I waited and waited.

    And maybe someday a publisher will pick it up and catch my vision and maybe they won't. But that doesn't mean GOLDEN isn't vital. It doesn't mean it was pointless. People will read it someday. I know they will.

    And if you believe in ONE it's vital, too! And there's more than one way to skin a book. ;)

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