Tag Archives: publishing

Another year

 

birthday-candles-1

About six months ago, I finished writing my first novel. Just completing it was quite an achievement considering I had been pecking away at it for over five years. (It was supposed to be done before I was 40 so I was only a little behind schedule.)

Well, I’d like to think I’ve made up for the delay this week because I’ve just finished writing my second book in record time. I feel like I’ve found a sweet spot in my creativity and have been happier for it.

Today I turned 43. It’s not a significant birthday or a milestone, it just marks the passing of another year. However, this has been a good year so I’m going to think of this as a good birthday.

I’m not sure what my 44th year has in store for me. I’d like to think it will involve some movement towards publication of my novels, but even if it doesn’t, I will keep writing.  Writing has become part of who I am, something I have to do every day or else I feel incomplete.

My pledge for this year is to have more confidence in my writing. Although I’ve had a lot of success with my non-fiction work, my current instinct is to be dismissive of my fiction writing because I have yet to land a publication deal. I still find it hard to call myself a writer.

What I need to accept is that I’m a writer because I write, the same way I am a knitter because I knit. It is the creative process that is important, not the sale of the product.

I’ve had a lovely start to my day. My boys took me out to brunch and I was feted in style. Now I intend to relax, and of course, get some writing in.

Happy birthday to me!

Advertisements

The waiting game

anxious

I am not a patient person; my kids have shown me that. They can be like cold molasses and I have to bite my tongue not to ride them every step of the way.

At work, I’m restless when I’m waiting for patients in clinic. I pace, I fidget, I get annoyed when we run behind.

I’ve always been like this, none of this is new. What is new, however, is the insane level of impatience I’m feeling waiting for feedback on my writing.

Over the past few months, I’ve submitted several pieces of my writing to different publications and competitions. Previous to this, I just posted on my blog and worked on my novel. Suddenly, I’ve found myself waiting for contest results, rejection e-mails, and feedback from editors. I now see that I’m even more terrible at waiting than I realized.

I find myself rereading contest rules, scouring the regulations for the notification details, and checking my inbox obsessively, looking for the new mail that might bring me joy or pain. At this point, I don’t even think I care if I receive rejections; I just crave some acknowledgement of the work that I’ve sent out into the publishing netherworld. I’m like a nervous mother, waiting to hear that their child has arrived safely at their destination.

Things are particularly bad this month because, as I wrote about here, I’m now looking for representation for my novel. Over the past couple of weeks, I have pitched my novel to six agents. (The pitch consists of a query letter and the first couple chapters as a writing sample.) Now, I’m playing the waiting game again, but this time the stakes are huge.

This is MY NOVEL we are talking about, not just a 2000 word article.  This is something that took me YEARS to write!

So, I now find myself feeling uncomfortable almost every waking moment of the day as I wait for feedback that might take months to come back. You see, the line of thinking is that you only pitch to few agents at a time, so that if you don’t get representation you can tweak and improve your pitch to find better success in the next batch of queries. This means, however, that I’m stuck waiting to hear back from these agents before I can take the next steps in the process.

Before you feel too badly for me, I will admit that there has been some news and it’s been positive. Two of the agents have written back that they liked my sample chapters and asked for the full manuscript to review. This is great, of course, but now I’m even more nervous waiting to hear back from them!

The only thing that seems to quell this anxiousness is more writing, and because of that, I have been incredibly productive over the past couple of weeks and have written 25,000 words of a new novel. At least something positive is coming out of all my angst!

Please, keep your fingers crossed that I get some news before I get a bleeding ulcer!

Batters up!

reading

I’m warming up in the bullpen, getting ready to pitch. No, I’m not playing baseball… I’m starting to look for a literary agent.

I am getting ready to start pitching my book and I’ve decided to go the traditional route of looking for an agent prior to cold-pitching publishers. Why? Well, even though I know a lot of writers manage to get published without an agent, I still think the majority of publishers are more receptive to agents then they are to unsolicited queries. Perhaps this is naïve.

Honestly though, the main factor in my decision to pursue representation is that I have no idea what I’m doing in the publishing world and I don’t have the time to try to become an expert. I’m a working mom with a busy family; I’m lucky I have time to write, let alone find time to navigate the ocean of publishers out there. Does that make me lazy? I prefer to think of it as realistic, and I’m willing to forgo a percentage of my future earnings so that I don’t have to run the publisher gauntlet on my own.

So, while I’m doing the final polishing of the novel, I’m also taking time to craft a series of “query” letters. For those readers not in the know, these are letters that you use to sell yourself and your book. Somehow, in less than one page, you need to make yourself (and your book) sound like the best thing since J.K. Rowling. The goal is to pique your target’s interest enough such that they request a full manuscript. Then you cross your fingers that they fall in love with your book, or at least like it enough to consider it saleable.

I just read a piece of advice telling me not to give up until I’ve pitched to at least 100 agents… Sounds like I’ve got a long road ahead of me!

Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and land an agent in my first round of queries, or maybe I’ll pitch to those 100 and still be unrepresented. Either way, it’s exciting to be moving into the next phase of the process.

Wish me luck, and please, give me your advice!

The Pit of Despair

A friend shared this tweet with me a few days ago and it perfectly sums up my current state of mind.

As most of you know, I love to write. In addition to my blog, I’ve been very fortunate to have some of my essays in print, yet I remain unpublished as a fiction writer.

A few years back I wrote a children’s book for my son CJ and it won the Atlantic Writing Competition but I have had zero luck getting it published. I’m told that the children’s picture book industry is ruthless and I shouldn’t take it personally. (I still live in hope that it will one day come to life, maybe in time for my grandchildren.)

I’ve also written some poetry and a lot of short fiction, but have never felt confident enough in the pieces to submit them anywhere for publishing. For some reason I’ve just always had more confidence in my non-fiction work. Perhaps it is this blog that has given me the self-assurance one needs to expose their soul to that type of criticism.

Because that’s submitting your work to a publisher feels like… exposing your soul.

I finished my novel many months back and celebrated that achievement by feeling good about it for five minutes. Then the doubt set in. Seriously, that’s what it felt like. I celebrated in my head for a few minutes and then told myself it was a piece of shit.

The editing process sure didn’t help. The first edit wasn’t too bad, I could still see some strength in my writing. However, by the third edit, I was wondering why I was even bothering. Nevertheless, I slogged through the painful process and was left with 80,000 words that needed to be read by someone else. I needed to get a second opinion.

This led me to where I am now. I have just send the book out to a few beta readers and am waiting to hear back. This is the scary part because this is when I hear if they could even get past the first chapter or if the whole thing is a complete waste of paper. (Thanks to Shailla, Denis, Kris and Jenny for being brave enough to take the plunge into my writing. A special thank you to The Sister, who’s going to have to deliver the news to me face-to-face!)

Now, let me clarify, I’m not deluding myself that this is the next great Canadian novel. My book is romantic fiction… or, to put it bluntly, it’s chick lit. But is it good chick lit? At this point I really have no idea.

So, as I wait for feedback, my mind is racing. I am full of negativity and self-doubt, and am only expecting the worst… that way I won’t be disappointed, right?

Arrrgh! Basically, I am torturing myself in a mental Pit of Despair!

torture_pb

Anyone have any calming words of wisdom?