Yup, here I am, in my little 6 1/2’s.
I must tell you, I did it again. I sent a query letter off to a literary agent.
I did it on a whim. A gut feeling told me “Do it, you have nothing to lose by asking.”
This is true.
And I quickly regretted it the moment I pressed SEND. (Shit, what did I just do?)
It’s not because I’m a control freak. (Which I am when it comes to what I’m creating.)
You must understand how hard it is to share something like a novel with anyone—it’s not like drawing a picture and showing it to someone to see if they like it or not—reading a book is a commitment. It’s very nerve-wracking to wait for a response. The critical eye of someone else who might not be so generous. It is an ordeal to put one’s work out there and hope for the best, knowing that not everyone is going to like it because it isn’t their cup of tea. To appreciate the work that went into it. The years spent dwelling inside my head with characters, trying to tell their story justly, with sympathy.
One thing I do know—which makes me cringe—the minute someone else gets involved, money comes into play, and suddenly all the life will be sucked out of my creative spirit. It will stop being fun, it becomes more like work. All the joy that I feel while writing will turn into a wasteland of blank pages. I don’t want that to happen.
I was more pissed at myself than disappointed by that harmless rejection letter I got back. (Which arrived promptly before noon, less than twelve hours after I emailed it.) I knew I would be rejected, the query letter was quite the whimsical letter. It was not at all the stilted standard query letter that is expected. I did the unexpected, I was myself. I was honest. I told him a story in a manner of speaking. It did me no good. It did me no harm. I did it. I’m glad I got that “nag” out of my system that comes and goes over the years. (“You should get an agent.”)
Whew! It’s over. I should be set for another five years.
At least they didn’t leave me hanging for weeks.
At least it was a “nice” rejection letter. I’ve received worse, like that badly photo copied one (a multiple generation copy of a copy) that wasn’t straight on the page, and then folded in different places to get it to fit right in the envelope. (Who does that?)
I tested the water, and that’s all I wanted to do. I went for one of the Cadillacs of literary agents, I wasn’t going to fool around with anything less, and I was gently told in a few innocuous words to go bother someone else.
I was relieved. Honestly, I am. (Deep cleansing breaths.) I was scared. Getting an agent would add a dimension to my life that I don’t want. Funny isnt’ it? If I received a positive reply, I probably would have run screaming the other way. “Who me? You must be mistaken.” Nope. Not me. You got the wrong person. No. No. NO!
Dreams and realities. A dream come true can be a reality nightmare.
I’m perfectly happy on my own. It’s not easy, but I’m happy to be the one responsible for my work. I don’t need to be hit on the head with a literary agent magic wand to grant me permission to be an author. I might not be making a pile of money being an independent, but I have creative control that I would lose going the traditional route. Yes, I’m a quirky little control freak. As I should be.
How is Drinking from the Fishbowl coming along?
But it’s worth every spare minute I have to work on it. I want it to be right. I set it aside, walk away, do other things to occupy my mind, before looking at it again. Forgetting helps. I rewrote the entire first page two weeks ago. It was fantastic, it felt so good, euphoric. I’m glad I did it. Not that it was bad. It wasn’t “there” yet. It needed to be taken one step more.
I spent most of this summer taking that “one step more.”
I become suspicious if I breeze through a chapter without making a single change. Not even a pause to think about what I just read because I know what happens.
Could I ever read it and not want to make a change? Oh, probably not.
Just like with a painting, “How do you know when it’s done?”
I do. I just do.
That’s my story. I’m sticking to it.