Waiting for the Snow to Fall

There are millions of “beach people” out there in the world. I’m not one of them. Not a fan of sun and sand at all. Me? I’m a snow person. I love snow.

In my childhood I was never one to look out the window and anticipate the big snow day because I actually liked school. But, I loved snow too. As an adult, maybe part of the reason I love it so much is because it takes me back to my childhood. I’m not sure. I don’t want to stop and psychoanalyze myself at the moment.

Here’s another fact about me: I’m a bit of a weather nerd. This, I know, comes from my father. He was obsessed with The Weather Channel and always talking about weather.

Now, living in the south, the chance of snow every winter is hit-and-miss. We usually get one good snow a year.

Those two things combined have made me the kind of person who checks multiple weather apps on the daily.  This winter season, my apps have teased me with those little snowflake icons several times already. Each time, I let my hopes get up, only to be disappointed at the lack of real snowflakes in the sky.

But, last night, those little snowflakes on my phone turned into real snowflakes in the sky! I started out last night sitting on my chair drinking hot tea and staring out the window while binging on Netflix. At 7:06 and 7:08 pm, I got texts from both of my kids telling me to look outside. (*) It was snowing! Naturally, I threw on some shoes and went out to investigate said snow. It was awesome!

This morning I awoke to my boss texting me that the Governor had closed our museum for the day. So yes, SNOW DAY FOR MICHELLE! I ran to the window and was met with a tiny smattering of snow on the ground.

I’ll admit it. I was disappointed.

I was envisioning total coverage. I was hoping for inches of snow for my boots to crunch into. (Because that’s my favorite sound on the planet after laughing babies.) That’s not what I got.

Oh, there’s enough snow on the ground to call it snow. The roads that would’ve taken me to work today are too dangerous to drive this morning (and it’s only 14 degrees as I type this. (Exactly. I checked. Like I said, #weathernerd). But, I still feel let down at the lack of snow to play in.

As I considered this, I started thinking about how much this is like querying a manuscript.

Those little snowflake icons are the “awesome agents” for your manuscript. Those agents are out there. You can see them. They pop up on your screen all the time.  So you cast your hopes out as you send your query. Then you sit in chair with hot tea waiting for those wonderful real snowflakes to fall from the sky, in hopes that you’ll get to go outside in play in the inches and inches of snow. And make snowmen! And snow angels! And go on book tours! And become a NYTBSA!

Sometimes, you get the snow. Sometimes you get nothing. Sometimes, you get a smattering of snow and it’s enough to keep you going until the big snowfall comes.

That’s where I am today with querying. I think it’s unusual to talk about querying online while you’re querying. I wonder if writers are afraid if they talk about getting rejections, it will make them look undesirable to other agents. Or maybe writers see rejections as failure and nobody wants to broadcast failures on the internet, am I right?

But I’m not sure those things are true. It’s standard practice for writers to query multiple agents at once, be that in large batches, or a few agents at a time. (With the exception of some agencies who prefer exclusives. Check agency guidelines if you’re querying.) It’s well-known (because it’s true, duh) that all it takes is one agent to “get” your work. It stands to reason that if an agent loves your manuscript and wants to offer you representation, he/she’d be okay with rejections you’ve gotten from other places because they are YOUR snowflake!

And it’s also a universal truth that a rejection from an agent doesn’t necessarily mean the writer is a bad writer or the story isn’t good. Say it with me: A rejection of a manuscript is not a personal rejection.  (I’m telling myself this as much as I’m telling you, trust me. Ask my crit partners.)

This blog is about my journey in writing. That’s where I am in in January 2018–I’m sitting here with my hot tea waiting for MY snowflake to love my manuscript.

Good thing I have some actual snow to look at while I wait.

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A view from my deck. 

 

*Aren’t my kids awesome? They know me so well.

My son was at work and he texted me the following: So you weren’t going to tell your own son about the snow when he has to drive home in it? Who are you and what have you done with my Mom??

Two minutes later, this came from my daughter: Look outside!

 

 

 

 

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Wait For It

If you know me personally, you could very easily report that I am not a patient person. I like to do things at full-speed and I absolutely stink at waiting. Waiting is the worst. In fact,  I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and I have two books packed in my bag already just to override the fear of sitting there for half an hour (or more) in the waiting room with *gasp* nothing to do.

Because my brain is just wired to go, go, go all the time. If there’s a free moment in the middle of the day, you can bet that I’m thinking “What is it that I need to do that I haven’t done yet?” If I had a nickel for every time my husband has looked lovingly at me and said, “Just relax a second,” then…I’d have a lot of nickels.

And the thing is, I’m not an un-relaxed person. I’m quite happy and feel “calm” most of the time. Maybe that’s because my “calm” is a bit more chaotic than others. Because there’s nothing worse to me than sitting and doing nothing. I’m not the kind of person that can sit in a lawn chair and watch the flora and fauna for hours. I appreciate those things and enjoy looking at those things, but after about a minute, I’ve seen what I need to see and I want to move on to something else.

(You’d think I’d be skinny and my house would be immaculate, but neither of those things is true.)

While I usually do a good job of filling the hours in my day, I’ve come to a point in my writing career where I am waiting. And I can’t do a dang thing about it.

I’m not naive, I know that the publishing industry is slow and there is a lot of waiting to be done. I went into this endeavor eyes wide open. I understand that each part of the process is lengthy, from the writing stage to the revision to the seeking and procuring an agent, the editing, the submission to publishing houses, the editing again, and the length of time it takes to get a book designed, printed and published. All of those require…waiting.

I’m only on stage three of the process. I’ve queried agents (through various sources: conference, contest, and cold querying) and now I have manuscripts out in the world for review. So I wait.

I’m willing to do that because I understand that there are so many hours in the day and most agents have active clients they’re working for. They’re making deals, giving advice, submitting manuscripts, on top of numerous other things for their existing clients. Plus, it just takes a while to read queries and pages from requested materials. So, I’m exercising my patience.

Some days, I’d rather be exercising my body, to be quite honest. And that hardly ever happens either.

Since I’m not that good at waiting, I’ve started actively finding things to fill my time while I wait. We’re moving soon, so I’m organizing and packing and reorganizing and clearing out junk. Clearing out junk is totally healthy for your soul. I recommend it immensely.

What else am I doing? Since my last set of queries/requests went out, I’ve read 9 books. I’ve never really counted the number of books I’ve read. With no concrete idea of how many I normally read, I made a goal to read 52 this year. I’m already at 42 at half the year. (Learned something about goal setting with this, btw..)

And the good thing about all the reading is that it’s helping improve my writing and career. Every book I read gives me lessons on craft (be them good or bad). Every author I research on the internet or book pic I post on InstaGram gives me insight into the business and forges connections with the writing/reading community.

Another important thing I’m doing now is writing. I know that sounds weird for me to say. Hey look, the writer is WRITING. Big deal.  But it is a big deal. Once I had a final draft of my manuscript ready for querying, I put it away, because tinkering with it while agents are reading may cause problems. What if they like it the way it is? Or have other possible changes in mind after they read? If I mess with it now, I may give myself some big headaches in the future once I find the right agent for my work. So I leave it alone until I hear back.

So then what?

What is a writer to do? A writer writes. I started another project. Or rather, continued a half-started project. And I have to tell you, the fact that I’m laying down words on something, anything, is making me a hundred times more calm. It doesn’t feel like waiting when I’m producing something. There was about a month period in which I wrote zero words and it was terrible and I was miserable. Just diving back into the creative process has made all the difference. It doesn’t matter if this project will ever be seen by anyone else. It just matters that I’m creating.

Do I still obsessively check my emails, hoping for an agent response, even though I know it’s too early for a reply? Yes. When I’m driving or in the shower, does my mind still wander into possible scene changes, marketing ideas, lists of ideal potential publishers? Yes. Do I waffle back and forth from thinking my manuscript is the BEST THING EVERRR to thinking it’s total rubbish and nobody will want to read it? Yeah, that too. (Don’t think that will ever go away.) But, I’m managing the waiting parts and maintaining my sanity and I feel pretty good about that.

Until the next Tuesday blog..I’ll be here waiting…like Timbaland waiting to reveal the next boy eliminated on Boy Band. Seriously, this guy takes the reality show dramatic pause to a whole new level.

timbaland