Not for the Faint of Heart

I’ve said it before. This whole writing thing? Not for sissies. You know what’s even worse? The solicitation part. Finding an agent, finding a publisher, finding peace in your ever-doubtful heart during the whole gut-wrenching process. (Where’s that damn Stuart Smalley when I need him?)

As a lot, I’d say we writers are a bit angst-filled. Okay, I’d say we wallow in a great deal of self-doubt and roll around in our own general shit. We fret. We second-guess. We cry. We emote. That’s why we WRITE, for heaven’s sake. Because we simultaneously love it and loathe it and have to come to terms with that dichotomy on paper. And having to deal with rejection after rejection after rejection doesn’t help our fragile egos.

In fact, this particular writer can’t take much more this week. And it’s only Tuesday. Thank goodness dear Doctor H has kept me afloat. As she so graciously says, “We’re like bridges, Kat. And sometimes our trusses get weak. That doesn’t mean we’re weak. That just means we need a little repair. I can help you with a little truss repair.” Thank God I’m under repair, H. Thank God you’re such a damn good bridge builder.

Because the cold, hard truths are out there…

Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” was turned down 29 times.

Beatrix Potter’s “A Tale of Peter Rabbit” was rejected so many times, she self-published.

Stephen King’s “Carrie” was turned down dozens of times.

Judy Blume (my beloved!) was rejected for two years straight.

John Grisham heard “no” 25 times on his first go-round.

And my most recent favorite…

JK Rowling was rejected by dozens of publishers and was only picked up by a small British press at the behest of the publisher’s young daughter. (Thanks for that tidbit, Michael. And thanks to you, young publisher’s daughter, for your world-changing behest.)

It’s tough out there. Add to that the general collapse of the publishing industry, and the prospects look bleak.

My days can begin in a very Pollyanna-ish fashion, and by the time 5:00 rolls around, I may very well be curled up on the floor with a glass of wine, begging for mercy.

Today, I only received one rejection. It wasn’t mean. It wasn’t even a form letter. But it was from an agent I was really interested in. You know — one of the ones whose website picture is cute and approachable and makes you think, “Hey, she and I could be BFFs. We’d probably have lots to talk about when I visit her in New York. We could sit around in our jammies and drink coffee while we solved all the world’s problems. Maybe she has a dog. She drinks red wine, I can just tell. I think I’ll query her.” (Yeah, I tend to have inappropriate crushes on people who might be able to advance my career. So what.) Anyway, her “no” stung a little bit more than most. I was ready to make dinner reservations and engage in witty banter at the 21 Club.

I know publishing is a business. I know she’s probably up to her eyeballs in contemporary women’s fiction written by suburban white women. But I still wanted her to the the one.

I have 29 active queries out there in the internet ether. Tomorrow, I’ll send out another 5-10. And the day after. And the day after. And the day after. There are a LOT of agents out in the wild blue yonder. I just have to find the one who loves me back.

I haven’t yet heard from any of the four agents who requested full manuscript reads. Every day that I don’t hear from them, I wonder if, perhaps, they agreed to read my book so I would Leave. Them. The. Hell. Alone. I met each of them at a writers conference, have kept in touch with them, have probably overstayed my welcome. I bet they’re all talking about me in the back of the gym, whispering behind their hands, “There she is! She’s the one who keeps hanging out at our lunch table and following us home after school! Let’s say ‘yes’ so she’ll take her tater tots and GO AWAY. Then we can all sit around the Ouija board and drink Diet Fantas and laugh at her awkward character development.”

Hmm. You know what that reminds me of? My love life (sans the Ouija board and various and sundry other parts). Chris asked me out a few times before I actually said yes. I wasn’t so sure about him, wasn’t super-interested. But he was tenacious. And kinda cute. I mean, he could rock the mullet and the white Don Johnson pants. So I gave in thinking that one date wouldn’t kill me. And look what happened! Just look!

Hey, Agents! Look what could happen! You might be a bit hesitant right now, but look at me — I’m kinda cute. If you say yes, you might just meet the love of your life! We could get married on a sunny October day and have our attendants dress in purple and blue. We could laugh at each other’s jokes, drive a wood-paneled RoadMaster station wagon, have lots of great sex, make four beautiful babies, move to Mississippi, and live happily ever after!

Or, if you’d prefer, you could just represent me professionally and negotiate a really good book deal. You pick.

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About Katrina Anne Willis

Author, friend, lover, dreamer, drinker of red wine.
This entry was posted in Write On and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Not for the Faint of Heart

  1. Michael Dennis says:

    I love this, really. Don’t like to use that word that much – but it fits. Don’t know if you’re interested or how you might find them but I have several authors on my facebook page. Mostly women. One has written a book about “Marriage Beads” and lives in Charleston and has been on a lot of national T.V. shows and XM radio and stuff. A female comdey writer in NC that posts on my wall occassionally and she loves the C.S. Lewis stuff I post and I think one in Murels Inlet, S.C. that’s a best-selling author. It wouldn’t hurt to find them and maybe reach out to them. Your pen has a very nice Midwesternness to it that is fresh and it make it easy and fun to read. Never stop writing.

  2. Logan says:

    Here’s my favorite: The Help’s manuscript was rejected 60 times. Agents and publishers alike told her that NO ONE was interested in “these sappy” kind of stories! Ha! Agent 61 is happy I bet!

  3. Dawn Pier says:

    Okay, I know naught of what you write, however I have “heard” that once you send your baby out into the wilderness of Agentdom it is best to let her go. Yeah right!! I know, easier said than done. But have faith, because as Michael says, you’re good and should never give up. And I know you know that on some level or you wouldn’t have finished that book in the first place.

  4. Greg Clark says:

    Let’s settle on a target for the number of rejections its going to take to find that one agent who takes your baby in. Let’s say its 50. So with every rejection you get closer. Go out. Get them over with as quickly as possible. Check them off. With every 1-49 rejections, you get closer. How many rejections did you get this week? Two? Good for you. You’re are making progress.

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