Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cupcakes, Empanadas and the Last Full Request

Yesterday I made 26 strawberry cupcakes.
Today I am making 26 mini-empanadas. Do you see a trend? It's Eldest's eight birthday today and I brought in pink-confetti icing sugar bombs for the kiddies to enjoy. I hope their parents forgive me for the extra dose of red dye #40 I've injected into their diets. As for my kid, she comes by her wonderful kookiness naturally, no red dye required.

The empanadas are for tomorrow, International Snack day at school. Because public schools don't have enough things to do, they have to celebrate foreign snacks. I get it, I really do, it's part of cultural awareness. But I don't think a mini empanada is going to make a second grader belt out a rendition of Depeche Mode's People Are People, do you?

I'm griping. I'm kvetching. Because I'm nervous. Today I got an email from agent Barbara Poelle - a short note to say that my full ms is next in her queue and thanks for my patience. She's the nicest frigging agent on the planet, to let me know that the wait is almost over. But, of course, it means that I need to gird my loins. This is the last full request I have out on BookEnd.

Do I think I'm going to get rejected? Yes. I do, actually. Not because I don't believe in my work, not because I don't believe in myself. I think I'm a really good writer. My writerly ego has a tendency to look like a puffer fish. But still, I think I'm getting rejected, and I'm trying to get ready for that feeling.

Someone (sorry I can't remember who) commented a while back on a post of mine which was similarly not so positive that I should believe in the good outcome - even against the odds - believe in the positive as a way of projecting out positive vibes and then having them rebound back at you, like some gigantic cosmic, fuzzy-warm boomerang.

I am seriously in AWE of the person who can do that. HOW DO YOU DO IT? I can do it for other people. I can absolutely 100% believe positive things (or 6 impossible things) on behalf of someone else, but I can't do it for myself.

It feels like the worst kind of hubris to think positively of myself. It feels like I'm pinning a KICK ME sign on my own back and daring the writerly fates to have a go. Besides, if I'm wrong it's not like that will make me sad - I'll be psyched to be wrong, thank you very much. But if I'm right, I'm hoping that I'm prepared. That I've had time to get used to the idea and (when it happens) ameliorate some of the damage.

Am I wrong? Am I actually making things worse by being negative? What do you think?


  1. Here's how I look at it, Alex: I can write, and unless I thought I could write I wouldn't even bother with my blog. But I can write, I've had people I respect tell me that, and I see it for myself. So, I believe I'm worthy to try to be published. However, not everyone is going to like what I write, and certainly not everyone will think my wonderful novel is ready to be published. I know this because I think that of other writers. There are novels I don't like, and I've read writers that I truly wonder how they ever got published because they couldn't write their way out of a paper bag if they tried. In my opinion, of course. :)

    The bottom line: agents are people. This is why they can look at my great novel, and they may agree that technically it is well-written (let me be presumptuous for the sake of argument), and it checks all the "good novel" points... but it just doesn't grip them. They don't love it to be able to sell it with enthusiasm to a publisher. Or maybe they really like it, but they can't think of a single publisher who would buy it right now. Both of these are possible reasons why excellent writers like us will get rejections. :)

    I think if you look at it like this, it's easier to deal with rejection. If you've got agents interested enough to read partials and fulls, you know you can write. It's now just finding an agent who loves and can sell your work. And out of hundreds of agents in this country alone, that can be like the proverbial needle in a haystack. But that's why we keep querying.

    I hope this helps you. All the best! :)

    1. Colin, I bet YOU were that positive person who's commented before! :)
      I agree with everything you say on an intellectual level. On an emotional level I want to tunnel my way through a giant red velvet cupcake, head first. Thanks, as always, for being supportive!

  2. While I am not into mysticism and all that stuff, I do believe that negativity breeds the same. The reverse is true, positive thinking creates positive energy.

    I like what Paulo Coelho says, "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it"

    Believe it!

    By the way, I wish I had about a baker's dozen of those strawberry cupcakes about now. Yum!

    1. Jeremy, wish I could send you some cupcakes, but the little 2nd graders inhaled them leaving nary a one for hardworking writers like us!
      I do appreciate the sentiment - I even believe it works for some people - I just don't know how to apply it to myself. I think I'd have to have a snark-ectomy and a total sarcasm-removal procedure first. I did try to give up sarcasm for Lent last year - worked OK. This year I'm trying to give up being passive aggressive. Next year I'll try to give up going off on tangents in comments.
      thanks for your good, positive thoughts!

  3. ***hugs*** I really hope it goes well for you.

    I think it's hard... on the one hand, I AM a believer in thinking positively, in not giving yourself negative selftalk, in having faith that the best is right around the corner for you. If I let myself get bogged down in not being positive, I think I'd just curl up in a dark corner and fester.

    On the other hand, sometimes we have to go through quite a lot of yuck to GET to the best. And when you're barrelling along full of positive energy, full of telling yourself that you're awesome and THIS IS THE ONE... when it turns out to NOT be the one, it's often like someone has suddenly turned around and punched you in the gut. And that sucks.

    I am just full of completely unhelpful answers today.

    Keep us updated on how it goes, we're pulling for you! :)

    In Which We Start Anew

    1. Thanks Jo, for the hugs and the support. It really helps to know that others are/have been where I am. A burden shared is a burden halved, no?

  4. If you wish hard enough, your wish will come true. Don't tell too many people, but yes I do believe that. It may not come easily or right away, but you can get what you want if you believe you can have it and do whatever it takes to get it. With that said, don't twist your mind into knots thinking your attitude will impact what happens with this last request. Your vibes will not make it all the way to New York and make her say yes or no. :) Unless you're a witch, of course. One of the things that has helped me the most as a writer was embracing the possibility of rejection, and trying anyway. Accepting that rejection can happen and probably will (a lot) makes it easier for me to handle. It's better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed!

    1. If I were a wish I would not have to run my tail off on the treadmill every night in penance for the cupcakes and empanadas I eat during the day - so I can't control the outcome in a witchy way. I think your way of stating it makes the most sense to me - believe in the best, but prepare for the worst.

  5. I'm the same way, Alex. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. I admire you that you have the cajones just to put your work out there. And to get a full requested? That's great in and of itself. You are on your way, regardless of this outcome. Hang in there and best of luck!!

  6. Oh, and what kind of empanadas are they? I make pumpkin ones :)

  7. Sheila, I'm so good at the glass half full thing for others, for myself I tend to look around and say, "There's a glass?" So I appreciate the good vibes very much.
    As for the empanadas - want to trade recipes? I usually make my mom's standard (Uruguayan issue) meat/raisins/olives/egg variety, but I have made butternut squash and corn ones for my vegetarian friends. Pretty good. Would love to know how you make yours - YUM!

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