Queries and Submissions… Oh, my!

It’s a no-brainer: writers love to write. Find a plot or an interesting character lurking in the brain’s back room and away we go, plotting (or not) and happily unravelling story complexities for hours, days, probably weeks… to the exclusion of all sorts of potential distractions. Housework? It can wait. Family? They’ll understand. Grocery shopping? Mmm, maybe a quick trip to stock up on essentials like chocolate and chai tea and Diet Coke.

When the initial writing is done we’re willing to delve right back into it, editing, revising and even rewriting. It’s what writers do, right?  Pick away at it from every angle until we get it ‘just so’.

Jay 2

When it’s finally ready, we steel ourselves to send it out into the world — to critique partners first, then to beta readers. Finally the day comes when we can’t stall any longer. The story is as good as it’s going to get under our hand. It’s time to find an agent or editor to mentor us through the next stage, time to send the manuscript out on submission. Ackkk!

That’s what sends me into a flap.

Jay 1

I end up all a-flutter, suddenly convinced that it’s premature… surely another revision is necessary. If it’s not the best I can make it, sending it out now could be a mistake. I begin to re-read. It’s total crap! I’m sure it is. At least, the whisperings of that nasty Inner Critic sitting on my shoulder are telling me it is.

What’s the solution? Do we re-work and polish manuscripts until the life is sucked out of them, then shelve them in favour of starting something new? Do we close our eyes to the possible shortcomings and throw them into the public eye, hoping the recipients will be kind and limit laughter and jeering to the confines of their own office before sending out the rejection letter? Or… dare I suggest it? Do we stand tall, pull up our big-girl britches and recognize when we’ve done the best we can for now — ‘for now’ meaning we accept the reality that there will undoubtedly be recommended edits forthcoming — and take the next step?

Jay 3

There’s nothing more nerve-wracking in my world than hovering my finger over the ‘send’ key. Despite what others suggest, it never gets easier for me. Over the years I’ve read plenty of books on the craft of writing, studied agents’ and editors’ blogs to glean helpful information and listened carefully to the experiences of other more seasoned writers. I’m developing a fat resource file, but nothing nourishes the seed of confidence that will tell me, “Yes, DO it now. You’re ready.”

Earlier this week I printed out another item to add to my file from the Books & Such Literary Agency blog: “Minimize the obstacles to publication“, a post written by agent Rachelle Gardner. Her very first point is, “Not working on your book and your writing craft long enough.” ::sigh:: See what I mean?

I just might have to peck out a bit more on this revision. I’m aiming to make it public soon, but… not today.

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What convinces you that your work is ready for public scrutiny? How do you block out the negative Inner Critic’s evil whisperings?

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Writing Insecurities

 

On Twitter last night I read DD Shari Green’s tweet, “964 words. Some of them don’t suck.

Then on the Writer Unboxed blog I encountered Debbie Ohi’s delightful cartoon…

The cartoon evoked so many comments along the line of, “You must be living in my head!” and “Have you been spying on me?” that a thought stood up and began waving its arms at me… the thought that at some point most writers must feel insecure about their writing.

I know I do. I think I’m a reasonably decent writer, but when I read my work-in-progress I know without a doubt that it’s gosh awful. After I revise, rework, rewrite until my eyes cross, it’s only marginally better, and I despair of ever creating a novel worth reading.

Then along comes a compliment from an unlikely source, and hope stirs a tender sprout that begins to work its way out of my shriveled core. Uncertain. Seeking the light of acceptance, but squinting, just in case it’s looking in the wrong direction. Maybe… just maybe… my story doesn’t completely suck.

That’s the stage I’m at now. How about you? Do writing insecurities ever get you down?

Update: There is also a good post on this topic at K.M. Weiland’s blog: “10 Steps for Working Past the ‘This Stinks’ Blues“.