First, I’ve lost some followers. Hmmm. Was it the NaNo thing? Oh come on. Oh well, more booze for the rest of us.
Well, the last (at least I hope it’s the last) of my rejections came creeping into my inbox last week. It was unexpected, because I assumed that after the months of no reply, I’d been rejected anyway. And it was the best and worst rejection I’ve received yet. Best because it was very personalized and they took the time to tell me exactly what they didn’t like, proving that they did read at least part of the manuscript. And worst because they described the manuscript as “little more than a detailed synopsis”. Ouch. It hurts just writing that.
Do I agree with what they said? In part. Most of what they didn’t like about it is subjective and I can shrug and say, “Whatever.” The bit about detailed synopsis, well…I had to take another look to decide. The conversation in my head went something like this:
-The first chapter stinks.
-Yes it does.
-Worse than Kurt after hockey and wing night at the Fare and Foul.
-But the second chapter is good. Why not start there?
-Because the first chapter is necessary for the second and third…isn’t it? Well it sets the tone.
-Damn it, Renee. You don’t need to set the tone. It should be present from the first lines. What the hell were you thinking? Make it work without the first chapter.
-But I like the first chapter. It’s good.
-But it contains neither of the protagonists. Why bother? It begins with a character that dies. What is that about?
-I don’t know.
-Of course you don’t. Fuck, you make my brain hurt.
-Wanna get some chips or something?
-Yeah. I’m done with this shit.
-I think we’ve got cookies too.
-Yeah? Chocolate chip?
-Oreos are gross.
-You’re an ass.
-So are you.
And then it happened. That psycho bitch that lurks in the deepest, darkest part of my brain found her opening.
You suck. The manuscript sucks. Why did you even send this out? Hell, everything you’ve written is boring as shit. You’re not special. You’re never going to publish unless you do it yourself. You’ve been lying to yourself this entire time. This “author” dream is a fucking joke. You could be out working and making a decent living instead of chasing rainbows or saving pennies for a stupid editor so you can do it yourself. God, you’ll never learn will you? Just keep on trying to achieve the impossible.
Yeah, that bitch. I had a day or two of what you could call utter depression and then the real me, the one who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to step on/crush anyone to get it, came out to play.
First, the manuscript can use some work. Manuscripts can ALWAYS use more work. That’s not something that should shock me. Second, I am an author. I’ve published short fiction, over 1000 articles (that someone else paid me for), and that little book Carlos and I wrote, which is doing well so far. Just because I haven’t achieved my primary goal does not mean that I suck, it means I haven’t been chasing the right rainbows.
The rejection still stings and I’ll probably wince every time I read it. Oh yes, I’m keeping this one. As I said, it’s the best and worst I’ve gotten so it should be framed so that on the day I achieve my goal, I can burn the fucker right on top of the rest of them.
What to do now? I’ve been thinking over this whole “traditional” publishing goal. Why do I want it so much? What’s wrong with self-publishing? Do I have a choice?
I will not self-publish my fiction just yet. But I am giving up on the agent search. I don’t feel that with the way the industry is at this moment I’ll be able to find an agent no matter how kickass my writing is. (And I’m not saying it is kickass, but it doesn’t suck either.) Also, I don’t think I need one at this time. True, an agent is the key to getting the big publishers’ attention, but what can I do with that right now?
Instead, I’m looking at small presses while I research this new growth in self-publishing. My mistake for a very long time was in thinking a “real” contract meant print and possibly digital. Obviously that’s just a retarded way to think. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s available to new authors in the e-publishing industry. And what an opportunity wasted.
A very good friend recently reminded me that I have been focusing on the wrong things. (Thanks, Katrina.) In my head it’s been agent, publisher, book, agent, publisher, book. No deterring from that path. I’ve sent out about 300 queries. 300. Three-zero-zero. Do you know how much damage that many rejections can do to an ego? It can crush your soul to pathetic bits of nothing. (And I have a pretty healthy ego most of the time.) Never once did I consider that maybe my approach was wrong or maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t the right path to take. I was adamant that I NEEDED an agent. But again I come back to the question; Do I?
When I make plans, goals, etc., I tend to forget to adjust them now and then. I mean, nothing stays the same, right? It stands to reason that occasionally, you should look at said plans and change them accordingly. Duh. This industry has changed drastically in the past few years. Sure, when I started writing, my plan made sense. Now? As a “new author” I can’t succeed with this approach. Not before I reach 40 anyway. Hell, who am I kidding? I’ll be in diapers and putting my teeth in a damn jar on the nightstand before it happens with the path I’ve been on.
My biggest weakness is my impatience. I want what I want and I want it NOW. This process has been really hard because of that. It’s been several years since I “decided” that I wanted to publish my writing; years that I’ve wondered many times if that was the right decision.
It was and it is.
You all have inspired me in different ways. Some of you I know well, have inspired me personally, others I know just by the comments you make here on The Edge, but you’ve inspired me through those comments and what I read on your blogs. So I’ll ask you and I really want to know what you think: After two years of hammering on agents’ doors and trying to publish traditionally, am I crazy for giving up that dream? Or do you agree that there comes a time when something just isn’t working anymore and you have to abandon it?