Thursday, March 18, 2010

Still Querying, but Tiring Fast.

One of my dearest followers commented that I am always so uplifting with my blog, so very optimistic about my querying process, and I feel like a sham today because I have to admit that it's all smoke and mirrors.

The fact is that I'm a bit tired of this whole query business. I received another rejection today - very generous, very enthusiastic, but none-the-less a rejection. Even the best, most popular, writers must get jaded with the feedback they get at times, so it stands to reason that an unknown, unpublished writer would get saddened by it. I love to write, but it would be oh-so-sweet to be writing for others.

I'm tired of being told that I'm a very good writer, but that my books are too quiet, too instrospective, and not marketable in today's tough, thrill-seeking culture.  I don't write for that readership. Can it be that the very people who might enjoy my books only use their local libraries and have little influence over book sales? Am I writing for a similarly quiet and introspective group who wouldn't know a Kindle if one jumped up and bit them on the nose? Is there such a group? Am I, to put it bluntly, writing only for a phantom audience, perhaps only for myself?

But that was always enough, wasn't it, once upon a time? The pleasure of the words, the poetry, the cleverness we saw - we did it for ourselves, didn't we, as we toiled into the night? I used to show my mother when I was very small, and that was enough, and, much later, my most trusted friends or family members. At what point did it become something we just had to share with the world? When did it become an ego trip? What did we read by one of our favorite, well-published writers that triggered us to think, "I have something new to say about this, and folks will want to read it."?

So, today, I am feeling like Martin Amis's protagonist, Richard Tull, in The Information.  I am despondent, childishly resentful, totally shallow and weepily exhausted by my thankless querying adventure.

Of course, I'm very tired from all of this moving business. Still packing - not all at once, you understand, but as the mood takes me - but there's a lot of mental processing going on about it all the time, and I'm not sleeping well. There is stress, despite my cat-entertaining Hatha Yoga asanas.

I still have queries for two books out there, by the way.  All is not lost. Only my optimism, it seems, at least for the time being.

Like Fagin in Oliver!,  "I am reviewing the situation."  I'm quite good at that.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Nuts and Bolts of Writing 101, and Cats with Sweet Breath.

My cats had bad breath. The vet said they had gingivitis. General anasthetics  and several extractions (and a whole heap of money) were involved. It's done now, but it was rather a hellish week. They're home, of course, with sweet breath, reasonably themselves (although Baby is particularly grouchy with Jeeves - I've never heard such cat language - as if he caused all her discomfort).

But I did no new writing; I was too distracted to concentrate on the current manuscript. I did manage to tweak the short synopsis of Strachan's Attic. Sarahbeth suggested it needed to be a tiny bit more descriptive, that it's a ghost story, whether I like putting those words to it or not.  So I obliged. I guess it's clearer. I amended the sidebar and webpage blurb as well.

I'm no longer making the first chapters for all three novels available on my site, only the blurbs. I thought about it a lot. For those who know me, who like to keep up with my work, it was good to have them there,  and I'll do it for any new books for a brief period, but the idea that an agent might pop by on a whim is overly-optimistic. Knowing what we know about over-worked agents, do we really think that they go blog-browsing, looking for their next great writer? I doubt it. If they do, my blogs alone will have to suffice.

I've mellowed in the sixteen months since I started this blog. Looking back, I was so full of worries and questions, but these postings have been (I've said this before) like a mini-course in the nuts and bolts of writing. I mean, I know how to write (I should do, after all these years), but the technical stuff associated with producing an agent-worthy and pristine manuscript has been hugely useful. I've met so many remarkable writers here, published and unpublished, either because they contacted me, or I noticed them in my research, and they had their own personal anecdotes for producing the most professional-looking manuscript, the most eye-catching query.

I've finished that 101 course now, I guess. I think I've learned all the basic rules; I'm even confident enough to break some. I'm no longer that naive, tentative blogger I was at first. I wonder what's ahead. Just so long as you guys are there as well, I'll be fine. It's like belonging to the best club in the world. A Bloomsbury Group. An Algonquin Round Table. You could charge membership fees.

I have two agents who are prepared to read Hafan Deg's full manuscript. One had requested it over a year ago, just after I signed with the UK agent, and is still interested, but away for two weeks. The other (a friend's agent) is swamped  but will look at it in April.

I've now sent out five queries for Strachan's Attic. I received two instant rejections...you know, "Dear Author"...which means it's doubtful anyone read more than the opening intro, but the other three are still active.

To quote Heather, also in Query Mode, "All appendages that can be crossed, are crossed." For me, I managed six, but as I age, it could soon be eight.