Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Like monks on a roller coaster

I've done a lot of things in my life, most of which I won't go into here. But this writing career thing I've embarked on has to be the wildest emotional ride I've ever been on in my life.

My confidence level can go from zero to sixty in about three minutes. And then back again. And then back yet again. And so on.

Take this past weekend, for instance. A follower of this blog offered to read the first fifty pages of The Devil You Don't Know to, you know, get me to quit whining. She liked it, but had some very solid advice on how to make it better. I worked diligently on it for a couple of days, rewriting the entire beginning of the manuscript. I tossed out entire chapters and then went completely nuts and reworked the entire book.

I managed to cut more than 10,000 words from it -- a good thing, since it was too long. I sent it back to her.

And she LOVED it. Raved about it. She wanted to read the whole book. So I sent it to her and she read it in a day and a half. And LOVED it. I was thrilled and, quite honestly, got to feeling pretty cocky. She helped me with the query letter (which I posted earlier this week on this blog) and I immediately sent it out to a handful to agents.

A handful of really good agents. Like Janet Reid. And Nathan Bransford.

I mean, I was feeling good. You know?

And they rejected me. In record time. Poof.


So then I sank into a massive depression. I suck. My book sucks. Everything about me and my life sucks. I don't deserve to live, etc. You know the drill.

By yesterday, I had decided to give up writing for good and get a real job. Again.

Now at this point, you're probably thinking: Well, something good must have happened today. Right?

Uh. No.

The only thing good so far is that I haven't received any more rejections. But it's only 4 p.m. here in Illinois, so I suppose that could change.


But here I am, still plugging away. I might lack the talent to become a published author, but I'm starting to believe that I don't lack the tenacity. And I keep hearing that tenacity is one of the key ingredients to making it in this business.

In the meantime, I've switched gears again. I have put the political novel on hold (temporarily) and I'm researching an idea I had over the weekend for a big kick-ass adventure thriller with a solid, original plot. I spent an hour at my son's Little League game last night sketching out the plot. I love it.

So I'm going to write it. First. Before I finish the political one, because this one feels right. I can't really explain what I mean, it just does.

So how about you guys? Are you up one minute, and down the next? How do you deal with the emotional roller coaster that comes with writing a novel?


  1. YES! This is the madness of any artistic or creative life. I prescribe for you...Dramamine and chocolate chip cookies. :D

    Also: adventure thriller sounds AWESOME! Go with it! I've heard multiple people say it was the third or fourth attempt at novel writing that got them through the publishing door. It's hard to shelf all the work that you've done so far on the others, but trust your gut.

    Unless you had too many cookies, in which case maybe give it a day or two.

  2. I've always been unable to focus on more than one thing at a time, so while I'm finishing up edits with my YA novel, I'm not even trying to find out how to write a query letter or market the novel. I know I should but that's how my brain works. And I think in this regard it does work for me, because I don't worry about rejection, once I send out my novel, I'll be working on the next one, so again I won't worry - that'll be the novel's job, my job will be writing the next story.

    Hope you can keep sending your work out and let your new WIP distract all negative thoughts. Just keep swimming.

  3. LOL, ain't that the way it goes? I remember that roller coaster ride.

  4. My highs and lows are of longer duration. I was feeling low for weeks, then finished my MS and was high for a while as I queried and blogged, then hit the lows for a few weeks, then picked up again and started my new WIP, but the last few weeks I'm back on my lows. Nothing is making me feel any better. I'll just have to roll with it and wait for the high again.

  5. Ups and downs are about as bad as the ADD that kicks in when I'm in the middle of a great typing marathon and suddenly a new idea pops into my head. Everything grinds to a halt while I find somewhere to stash the idea (because we all know it's not coming back around unless it's tacked down to something.) Trying to get back in rhythm can be hard.

    And I love your pic this post. The strangest thing I think I saw at DisneyWorld - aside from children screaming in terror when the three inch tall cartoon from their TV approaches them at well over 6 feet tall - was on The Great Movie Ride. I'm not sure if it was some kind of special weekend, Providence, or Karma, but there was three Buddhist monks and two Catholic nuns in line with us. Very cool arrangement of color - I wish I'd had my camera.


  6. I'm with you on this. I just started querying and the rejections are always going to hurt. I don't know your story, so I can't say whether you might just need to improve the query letter, or if perhaps the story may not seem marketable to agents even if it is great. Are you happy with the query letter?

  7. Oh my god, I'd swear you were me if you weren't you.

    I can relate to everything in your post. You know I have the emotional ups and downs with this writing thing but the other day, I was out for a ride and I realized that this is the first time in my life that I have ever WANTED to continue doing something even when I don't want to do it. You know what I mean?

    There are times that I'm flip flopping from story to story to story, changing my mind ALL the time and I think I'm going to end up in the nut hut. But I keep writing. And even when I was thinking about quitting writing there for a minute, I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather do. Finally! I've never had that before.

    That's when I knew I needed a writing group. I needed a close knit group of like minded people, that I can call MY people. People that I can trust, that can encourage, support and help me through. People to be accountable to that are crazy just like me.

    Keep querying and writing.

  8. You GO Terry!!! Yay!!!

  9. The first thousand rejections are always the toughest. But then, as long as you keep learning and improving, one day -- BOOM -- you get a wonderful agent. And then, you can get rejected by editors instead. So my point is, learn to love the process. It's a long road, but it can be a fun one.

  10. I guess I'm the odd woman out here. I liked your original query (in its various versions) much better than the last one you posted. Those versions had sparkle. The new one is too flat and reminds me of over-processed hair. You know, sometimes you can polish and revise too much. Just my two cents.

    I haven't read DEVIL and suspect the writing is fine. It was probably fine before you made the last heavy-duty round of revisions. You seem like you can write in your sleep.

    What about the big picture, God or Jesus versus the Devil? A LOT of people have tangled with that story in books and movies. It was popular on the big screen in the 1970s and 80s -- the Exorcist, the Omen, etc. Question for you: does your version of this done-so-many-times story have a new and irresistible spin?

    -- Holly

  11. It takes you a whole three minutes to cycle? Wow, you are patient.

    You gotta just keep getting back up. And can't let getting a rejection from the absolute top Agents deter you. I agree you gotta try; but can't let that particular rejection get to you.

    I'm on my own Query Quest for the mythical agent. Its been a long time since I hada rejection letter; but its been a long time since I climbed back up on the horse too.

    Here's wishing us both luck.


  12. Keep learning craft, improving and writing!

    LOVE that photo!

  13. I haven't sent anything out to be rejected, [because Im too scared] but, I cant imagine how much of an emotional roller coaster that must feel like!

  14. There are so many things to say. I was rejected constantly for an entire year until I got published. After that things took off. i wish you all the best.

    Also I rememeber I think Elizabeth Gilbert saying that if the only reason you write is to get published then maybe you shouldn't write at all. Easy for her to say.

  15. Oh, I've so been there and done that. I think if you look behind you, I'm in the last car of that roller coaster. ;-)

    I think you'll do great with that new book, it sounds like something you're really passionate about.

    I have a WIP. I like it, but I'm kind of stuck. To get my mind off of all the rejection, I've been formatting for e-publishing. I have it almost ready...but then what? I'm torn. lol