Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Long, Cold Writing Winter

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.


Linda said...

I don't know a thing about writing, but off the top of my head - there must be some writing forums/message boards out there with published authors as members. You'd probably find some tips there. Or attending conference/seminars with talks given by authors? Maybe you've already thought of those things. Well, when the time comes - just make sure you let me know where I can buy a copy :)

Linda said...

I think the writing and publishing world is changing so much with the Internet that it has sort of frozen the old way of doing things. But there are still books being published somehow. I gave up-I'm publishing on Kindle.

Just Me said...

I won't offer advice, not being a writer. I can only imagine what it is like and how you must feel. I read "Don't quit your day job" edited by Sonny Brewer in hopes of learning more about your journey. As fate would have it....it appleid more to me. Let's face it , I'm the one with all the crummy jobs(smile). But in the end, it revealed what a gift you have. I could never have put into words tthe experiences I have had inn such a perfect manner and with such laugh out loud humor. And that my friend is what I think of your writing....priceless to those of us who dont.

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