Have you noticed my silence on the subject of writing? I'm kind of frozen in indecision.
I have sent query letters for my latest novel, Ransoming Raphael, to 13 agents. I've had one request for more material and several rejections. Some I haven't heard back from.
Hundreds of literary agents sell novels to publishers, so why have I stopped after a baker's dozen? I worry that I need to fix something in my novel before sending it out again. Or, I worry that the query letter doesn't sell my novel well enough. I don't want to send letters to all the good agents, get rejected, then make changes to my novel or query letter and not have more good agents to send it to. So I'm doing nothing.
This break between classes has stretched out before me without early morning writing sessions at the computer. I haven't taken my laptop and tromped down to the coffee shop where the smell alone is inspiring. Instead, I've avoided the computer, the fiction, the agent search. I wrote a Christmas letter and published it myself. I don't think that counts.
A few years ago, when I searched for an agent for Trail Mix, my novel about two women who hike the Appalachian Trail, I received an email from a man who worked for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. He said the Conservancy was dabbling in publishing some fiction. I had a lot of interest from agents about Trail Mix at that time and decided to continue my search rather than asking him to take a look at my novel. Now, I wonder if that would have made a difference in my career. To have a book published, even by a small publisher, would be an extra achievement to put on my query letter.
Here's the cover I envisioned for my book Trail Mix:
The jump from writing to publishing is huge. That chasm gets wider every time I step toward it. I know that my writing can improve, so I vow to work on it this year, with workshops and writing conferences. Even if I write well, getting published remains out of reach, until I find an agent willing to take a chance on a novice.
Some do. I just need to find the right one.
So there I am, frozen between working on writing and working on selling. Maybe a happy medium, a compromise of 60 percent writing, 40 percent selling, or some other fraction that doesn't make me tired to think about.
The one thing I can't do any more is pretend my writing life doesn't exist and pop in another movie. I haven't watched Coco Before Chanel yet.
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