Lightbulbs, Josh Byers

What I’m currently terrified of

All right, it’s time to admit that I’m flat-out terrified.

I’m terrified of finishing this book – SWEPT AWAY – because there’s a very real chance it’ll be just another novel I finished and couldn’t find an agent with. This isn’t my first novel. It isn’t even my second or third. And sometimes it feels like I’m in a holding pattern. Write, write, write, revise, revise, revise, finish novel, query, query, query, rinse, repeat. Every time I’m close to finishing a novel, I have this same experience, the one where I ask myself why. Why am I writing another book? Why am I bothering? Won’t this just be the same as the last time, and the time before that … and the time before that, etc. etc.?

I know I go through this every time. I think, what if this is it?, and then in the same breath say, it won’t be. It’s a defeatist attitude, yes, it is, but it’s the honest reason why I’m lagging on finishing the novel. I always get to this point and think, why should I keep doing this to myself? Why, why, why.

Probably in an effort to make myself even more defeatist, but possibly also as motivation to finish this novel, I re-organized and updated my QUERIES spreadsheet. I’m a spreadsheet nerd, and I started keeping track of my queries and the responses three novels ago. I had two before that so I went ahead and added them to the spreadsheet. It was my way of seeing my successes, seeing which agents requested what from me, who didn’t, and to hopefully kick me into gear with finishing this one. How? Well, if I have a tab on the spreadsheet for SWEPT AWAY with agents I’m anticipating querying, then maybe I’d work double time in writing and editing and revising.

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned.

Instead of motivating me to work on the novel, it caused me to write this blog entry. Why, why, why. Five novels on the spreadsheet. 92 queries sent since 2009. 4 partial manuscripts requested. 16 full manuscripts requested. It’s incredibly hard not to feel like once this one is done, I’ll just add to those totals with nothing to show for it. Especially since my last novel hasn’t garnered any requests at all. I mean, I kind of half-heartedly queried it and then fell into writing SWEPT AWAY which I’m much more excited about.

But still.

I know what everyone is thinking about this, about any writer who keeps getting rejected. Try again. It’ll happen on the next one. J.K. Rowling was rejected how many times before someone took a chance on her. Yes, yes I know. Thank you. You don’t have to say it. I’ve heard it all, over and over again. Hearing it doesn’t change my mindset, I promise you. I wish it did. It used to. Back between novels one and two, and even at novel three which I was so certain was going to be it for me (& to date it received the most requests and feedback), that’s when it helped to hear it. Now it doesn’t.

Nothing really helps at this stage in the writing process except, perhaps, to write.

So I’m going to go try to get back to it right now and see if I can’t kick this defeatist attitude at least for a few more months. Until I’m ready to query. And then it’ll just punch me right back in the nose.

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