Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writing Wednesdays: Just Say Yes

It's remarkable how resilient the human spirit can be. Just six months ago, I was languishing in the Pit of Despair, having started out strong in the querying process for The Book Collector and then finally accepting that maybe it just wasn't meant to be.  Looking back at my neat and tidy Query Chart, it really did seem like I was on to something.

Out of my first 10 queries, I had 2 no responses, 3 rejections, 3 partials, and 2 fulls, one of which later turned into a resubmission.  So a fifty percent success rate (if we're considering getting requests for material a success, which I do). That's pretty good in querying statistics, actually. In a Times interview from 2008, Stephenie Meyer said, "I sent 15 [queries], and I got nine rejection letters, five no responses and one person who wanted to see me."

"All it takes is one yes."  That's what everyone likes to say in this business. And for some people, it may take as few as a dozen "no's" to get to that yes. For some, it may take a couple (dozen) more. But even Stephenie Meyer had to read nine rejection letters, and every single one of them sucks. Conversely, every request for material is a tiny bubble of hope, making it all the more painful when a rejection follows.  I kind of appreciate those "no responses"; in a way, they're better than seeing that rejection letter in your inbox.
Some people are able to go back and revise their novel and start over again. I'm sort of a clean-slate kind of girl, so I took some time off from writing and editing after giving up on The Book Collector. Fortunately, the kind words of one editor, who suggested I try writing YA, gave me just enough hope to claw my way out of the Pit, dust myself off, and start over.  Once the idea for my new book wormed its way into my brain, I found myself excited to write again. I tried not to focus on the querying process and to just enjoy the writing, but if you have any desire to get published, the reality is you're going to have to face that querying process at some point. I'm getting close to that point. And believe it or not, I'm kind of hopeful.

Of course, that could all change once I get feedback from my readers (or as soon as that first rejection letter rolls in), but the fact that I'm able to get excited about this whole process all over again is encouraging. Knowing my NaNoReviMo peeps are going through this too helps a lot; so does having supportive friend and family members who haven't given up on me after all this time. Querying in a new genre is exciting: "Look at all these agents who haven't rejected me yet!"  If nothing else, I've learned that I'm braver than I gave myself credit for before I started down this long and winding road.
And I've learned that even the biggest cynic (i.e., me) can somehow convince herself that if she just keeps trying -- even when she feels like giving up (especially when she feels like giving up!) -- all those "no's" will one day lead to "yes."

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