Writing . . . a labor of love.
Writing a book seemed like an arduous process. . . but I blissfully accepted the
opportunity. I had a blank slate ready to be filled as I pondered where to begin. Plot, genre, characters, background, so many things swirled around my head seeking a direction without a map. Besides the story I wanted to create, I had to consider word count, audience, weaving threads from start to finish, and the list went on. There were more questions than answers that pointed me one way then another.
Point of view practically put everything askew as the wrong perspective snuck into sentences when I wasn’t careful. First draft, second draft, writing and rewriting then arranging and rearranging like an architect fighting with an engineer to get the most out of each word, sentence, paragraph, and page before it turned into a chapter. I hung in there, finding so much excitement in my progress. My characters became real, making me wonder what they would do next. Then the edits—both micro and macro—had to be done after endless critiques that greedily cut some phrases while demanding expansion of others. Stacked words needed synonyms, variety to hold attention. Despite my protests, “that”, “very”, “really”, and “just” were removed along with not overusing “was”. As a point of reference, my debut novel, Never Blink, took 4 months to pen the first draft. Sometimes it takes years, so I was thrilled how quickly things were moving along.
However, my completed manuscript only permitted a moment of joy, not lingering excitement. And lots of back patting, mostly from my own hands. My joy was brief because the hard work had barely begun. No one tells you that drafting a novel is much easier than getting it published.
Scaling down my 85,000-word novel into a 25–70-word pitch turned my remaining brown locks gray. It felt like putting a square peg into a cylinder. Crafting the perfect hook rivaled the synopsis that needed to be tighter than a wound clock. More importantly than the book itself was the infamous query letter. It is similar to a first impression, except it’s on paper or more precisely on a computer screen. This subjective, one page document means you either sink or swim with what felt like sharks in the water. I spent almost as much time polishing and re-polishing my pitch, synopsis, and query letter as I did my whole manuscript.
Finally satisfied with this preliminary work, it was time to dazzle an agent. Humph. I only wish I knew what glitter and sparkles attracted one. If it were that easy, I’d be in head-to-toe bling. Who wouldn’t? This is the most difficult part of the journey. Finding a match to solicit (aka beg) someone to consider reading the designated 5, 10, or 50 pages of my best seller continues to be like an impossible mission. Hours upon hours are spent combing through agencies reading specific submission guidelines and crossing my fingers. It’s both time consuming and frustrating, especially when research reveals an agent is closed to queries. It has been over a year of sending out requests of interest for my book.
In this business, it is well known that rejections are part of the process. But a rejection still stings, and it feels personal. I remind myself that writing is subjective. Sometimes, agents don’t even read the few pages sent to them because they are seeking a different genre or storyline. It has nothing to do with the submitted book. They might like my premise but are looking to fill another gap in their repertoire. That helps my bruised ego a little bit. So, with this knowledge, I’ll continue my endeavor to pursue an agent. I’m not always patient, I’ll whine about another rejection, but I’ll keep on following this dream. Writing is a labor of love. I hope that one day soon, I won't even consider it labor.
P.S. Know an agent? Send him or her my way . . . please!!!