Sunday, August 7, 2011

Welcome to My Nightmare

I joined a rather exclusive club this week. I don't know if you are able to join, I'll have to check with management. I joined the Club of Unholy Anxiety (Writers Branch.) Sure, I already belong to the CUA, Parenting Branch, but I share that membership with my husband, so I can share the load.

The only requirement to belong to the CUA (WB) is to have submitted either a query or a request (or both) to an agent. If you are a writer and you have not put yourself out there to be rejected by a total stranger than, I'm sorry, you cannot gain admittance. If you HAVE done so and are not experiencing hot flashes, shortness of breath and/or nightmares, then I have a question for you: What are you on and where can I get some?

Ten days ago I emailed Kathleen Ortiz a partial she requested. That was exactly long enough to ferment serious, ridiculous anxiety because last night I dreamt that she sent me a rejection (almost said 'rejected me'; got to keep it in perspective.) The rejection was in the form of a Powerpoint Presentation. When I launched the presentation it looked like the screen on Minority Report, all techy with multi-layered levels of information on it. This rejection included, in depth, what was wrong with my first 100 pages, what was right with it, what books I should be reading (with a cool graphic of book covers).

In my dream I was frantically searching for a pen with which to write some of this awesome and terrible information down, because I knew that when the presentation ended, it would self-destruct. In the end I found one of those stubby golf pencils and tried to write with it on my hand (no paper around.) By the way, this is all taking place in the offices of Nancy Coffey Literary and agents are looking on in pity as I scramble. I finally start reading the feedback so I can write down some pearls of wisdom and, to my horror, realize I had sent her pages for the wrong book. Completely wrong, she doesn't even represent that kind of book. The book I sent her (which I have not written, but am considering it now) was non-fiction and about zebras.

When I told my husband about the dream this morning he said, "Ah. Here comes the anxiety train."
He should know, he's been on the train before. He published a non-fiction book on art/design in 2009. It's an awesome book (mostly for graphic designers and artists, but interesting for everyone, Sketchbook, by Timothy O'Donnell.) But he spent most of 2008 in a state of near constant panic because he'd sold the publisher on the proposal and now he had to deliver. He did deliver, just as I was delivering our littlest sprog, and he did a great job. But it took a long time to get him completely off the anxiety train. He's still an honorary member of CUA (WB) because he's working on another book project.

So, are you a member? If so, how do you battle the craziness? What's the weirdest manifestation it's taken?


  1. I'm afraid I've been run over by the anxiety train of rejection. I can't feel anything anymore. Yep, numb from the neck up.

  2. Eek. I've never had nightmares like that, so I count myself lucky. My main problem when I send a query is clicking the refresh button for my email obsessively -- like five or ten minutes is going to make a significant difference. Good luck with the querying -- and the nightmares.

  3. heehee. Welcome to all the fun lovely lady. I hope wonderful things happen for you and that the agent requesting the partial signs you asap. :))

  4. What's the old joke about the light at the end of the tunnel being a train?

    Good luck!

  5. I am definitely a member and I hear they're still searching for a cure. A PowerPoint presentation of mistakes:helpful, yet so embarrassing!

  6. Hi again, Magpie! If you want to take your mind off the anxiety train, I've left something for you on my blog!

  7. Love this post! I am a proud member of this club, with the added distinction of being so anxious about my submission to an agent I thought was tailor-made for me and the book I was sending along that I actually DID screw up my submission. He wanted the whole manuscript. My cover letter said it was the whole manuscript. And then I sent only partial. I was beyond nauseous when I realized, sent an apology with the whole manuscript, and never heard from him again. However, I am still alive, so I guess that's something. I think another, particular brand of that unholy anxiety comes when you actually see their name with a response in the inbox or mailbox, that complete terror before you open the envelope.


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