Pushover…me? Never!

self-confidenceWith experience comes wisdom, right? Well, we can always hope our writing stumbles at least lead to greater awareness if not exactly wisdom. I shake my head and sigh in sympathy when I talk to eager newbies these days, because I’ve been where they are – believing I’m only one lucky break away from the ivory-tower writing career I’ve always dreamed of.

Naïve: For several years after I first started taking my writing seriously – working on novels, querying for agents – I attended the local Mad Anthony Writing Conference. At one event (2011, maybe?), I sat in on an agent-led query critique session. We submitted the first few lines, maybe an elevator pitch, of our query and she critiqued aloud them for the entire room of would-be authors. I was devastated when she dismissed my query out of hand, saying (I swear I remember it verbatim!), “A novel can’t be sustained in first person. It’s too confining.” And I believed her.

It took several years before I was confident enough to realize how wrong she was (Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series, anyone?). I keep thinking I’ll go back through my notes to find her name, but what’s the point?

Gullible: I’ve been to any number of workshops in the past ten years, pitched to numerous agents, and had more than a few express interest and ask for a full manuscript. I remember the heart-pounding thrill the first time that happened, positive I’d found my opening to the dreamt-of publishing career. But every time (so far!), I’ve only A) received a polite form-written rejection; or (even worse) B) never heard from them again.

I still attend workshops. I still pitch to agents when I can. But I don’t get nearly so excited these days at the request for a full.

Susceptible: Every time I lose contact with my muse, when the words don’t flow, or worse – when I don’t allow myself time to let the words flow – if I can attend a book launch and hear another author describe their journey from sputtering starts to two-book deals, I come away renewed, energized, and eager to hit the keyboard.

…As long as it’s not someone who wrote one book; landed the first agent they queried; and signed a six-figure, multi-book contract within months. Those tales are too depressing for the easily susceptible who are on book four and have a stack of rejections.

Fortunately, I’ve learned how extremely rare those wonder stories are, and how often they crumble. I approach my write/query/submit/repeat life much more realistically these days. And the ivory-tower dream has been laid to rest.

I’m not that much of a push-over.

4 responses to “Pushover…me? Never!”

  1. From one ‘been there, done that’s writer to another, “don’t stop believin’” Hugs!!


    1. Not as long as we have each other for support! Thanks –


  2. A novel can’t be sustained in first person??? Most newly-pubbed novels I’ve read in the last 20 years have been told in first person. I do hear you. I had a YA novel I took to (and paid for) a conference critique with publishing house rep. She was astounded that my 17 year old protagonist was knocked up. Does this really go on in high school? she asked. Seriously. She was about 23-24 at the time. I had a good decade or more on her and I knew it certainly happened when I was in high school. You just gotta keep writing.


    1. Wow…the questions we hear, huh?

      Keep on!


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