There is nothing attractive about a person who spends all their time bemoaning how hard it is to do whatever it is that they’re having a hard time doing. And it’s doubly annoying when the person in question hasn’t actually been doing anything for months. Sometimes, however, it can’t be helped. I perused my blog backlist to make sure I hadn’t subjected you to this before (which would make the behavior even more egregious) and determined that I was overdue for a pity party.
In 2010, I wrote a post called The end is just the beginning. I had finished my first manuscript and was excited about my prospects. You might want to revisit that post if you need a refresher course on how publishing works, but in short, you send a cover letter and the first ten pages to agents to try to convince them how marketable your book is, and then it’s out of your hands. It doesn’t matter if your manuscript took three months or ten years to write, it all comes down to the thirty seconds the agent (or their assistant) spends with it. (It should come as no surprise that writers spend an inordinate amount of time rewriting the first chapter.)
My current manuscript is a middle grade, contemporary fantasy. I’ve submitted it to quite a few agents. While many are never heard from, some have been kind enough to provide the rationale for their rejection. Comments I’ve gotten include:
- “This is a fun and fresh story but to my ear, the voice isn’t hitting the right notes.”
- “I love your opening descriptions and felt Megan’s impatience viscerally, but some of the submission read as a bit dramatic and choppy.”
- “You’ve nailed the family dynamics in this story, that’s for sure… Even with this potential, I’m afraid I found the story a bit too simple and wished it were more developed…”
- “Right now, the story gives us a little too much play-by-play… This will make the pacing seem slow…”
This manuscript has been critiqued by fabulous readers, published writers, and a few honest-to-goodness industry professionals. I’ve listened, learned, and revised. I’ve taken classes, attended conferences, and yes, paid for professional help. I’ve tried to address the agents’ concerns, some I didn’t agree with, and some have been too overwhelming to think about. In any case, unless an agent invites you to revise and resubmit it doesn’t really matter, because, as they all tell you, another agent may feel differently. But then again, they may not.
You can see how crazy-making it can be.
I have a few options at this point. Give up my dream, start a new project, or pull up my big girl pants and go back to work on my current manuscript.
I know what I should do. The question is, can I motivate myself to do it?