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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

IWSG - When To Stop*

Insecure Writers Support Group is a monthly bloghop - check out the other participants here.

*Which is not the same thing as Giving Up.

So, on my birthday I got a rejection from an agent I really respect. Not the first, or the last time that will happen, I know. Then the next day, I got a rejection on my full. An AWESOME agent who I 'met' at a conference and who has had my full for months. It was a form rejection, though a kind one.

Unlike the 13 rejections that came before it, this one took the wind out of my sails (and the air from my lungs, the sparkle from my eyes - you get the drift.)

While struggling to recover, I tried to parse why this one affected me differently. Here's what I came up with:

1) Rejections hit in weird ways. It has to do with where you are in your day, what you've accomplished or not accomplished, if your kid drew on the wall with a black sharpie, it all has an affect.

2) This was a rejection on the full ms. Which means that I can't fool myself into thinking that the query just wasn't strong enough. The query was fine - it got a full request. The problem is in the writing. (I can hear you saying, but it's just not right for that agent, doesn't mean it's not right for another agent - I know, I'm getting to that.)

3) This was an agent and an agency that I really wanted. I didn't realize how much until I got the rejection - how much hope I'd pinned on it. It's disheartening to find that an agent that you 'connected with' doesn't connect with your work.

Aside from all the usual disparaging thoughts - I suck as a writer, my book sucks, the agent sucks (strangely, I never really think that) - a new thought emerged, "Maybe it's time to stop."

Stop querying this book. Stop thinking that this book is the one that's going to be published. Is it time to let in the thought that this might be one of (many) books that I write that goes nowhere?

Well, duh, of course that's (very) possible. But while I was blood-sweating-and-tear-ing over it, it seemed like it was THE ONE. And I got so much positive feedback, much more than I expected, from other writers and editors. I believed in the book.

I still believe in it. I wrote the kind of book I want to read. And maybe that's where the problem lies. Maybe, at this time, it's not right for the market, and no agent is going to connect with it.

The other problem is how much of a time suck querying BookEnd has become. NOT because it takes so long to send out a query - but because of the time I spend obsessively checking out new agents, checking in to QT forums and other forums, following agents on twitter, checking agent blogs - looking for crumbs of information that may somehow give me a clue, some idea how to get in. This kind of behavior feels like work, feels like accomplishment, but it's just keeping me from writing.

So, I've decided to stop querying BookEnd. I still have one full out there, and some outstanding queries. But I'm putting the breaks on it, at least until I can pull my gnat-attention span away from it and solidly onto my wip. It's one of my March Madness goals, and one I intend to keep for a long time.

So, what do you think? When is it time to move on?

20 comments:

  1. It's tough to know what to do for the best sometimes, but I think if you genuinely had so much belief in that book, maybe it's now quite time to give up on it yet.

    Whatever you decide, try not to get so disheartened that you stop writing completely. Eventually, it will all come together!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Kyra
      I appreciate the support. I think it's part of the writer's 'growing up' to realize that stopping on a project doesn't mean giving up. I won't do that!

      Delete
  2. Oh, I so know where you're at. I made this decision a couple of years ago with my MG mystery. It's in a drawer where, honestly, I do not want it to stay. I got a couple of very helpful rejections, and I actually think that I do have a sense of what's not working. Unfortunately, I don't have a sense of how to fix that. And I did fall in love, meanwhile, with another story. Which is taking me SO much longer to even WRITE (let alone revise) than the first book--at once perhaps a hopeful sign that I've learned/am learning and a discouraging feeling of just...so much time.

    I don't really have a clue as to the answer to your last question. Except that for me, it had gone on long enough, and I'd heard enough of the same comments AND read enough of what WAS being published in that age/genre that...it felt right. Not right as in happy, no. But right as in it made sense.

    Hug!

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  3. I kind of ran into that with my last novel. I stopped at sixteen queries, even though I had several requests and some positive feedback from agents. I still plan on querying it later, but I decided to take a bit of a u-turn and write something else first. Partly because I'm a slow writer and want to have a backup novel ready, but also because I don't think my head was in the right space for querying. It is a time suck. And it does hurt when an agent you think is perfect for you rejects you. It messes with your head a little, if you let it. So I completely get it. But don't give up on your novel yet. Maybe just take a break and get in the game later when you've recharged your batteries. :)

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  4. If you're looking for advice, I would suggest throwing yourself into another project. Perhaps not even worry about querying BookEnd anymore. Let it sit. If you get a request from one of the queries still out there, then great. Otherwise, become re-acquainted with the joy of writing, of expending your energy in the creative process. Then when project 2 is ready to query, you can draw on your experiences this time around. You already have a list of agents to query, you know who's at the top of your list, you know what they want, and you know how to write a query letter.

    This isn't to say BookEnd will never be published. But, as you suggest, maybe not yet. Maybe project 2 will be the one to get you established and provide you with an audience for it.

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  5. That moving on thing,is probably a lot like falling in or out of love. Nobody can tell you, it's different for everybody, but somehow you just know. Good luck with the new WIP and who knows what may come of 'Book Ends'.

    Nice to meet you. I'll be back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to meet you too, welcome. And thanks for the support!

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  6. I'm sorry for your loss. I don't know if that's the right response, but it feels right to me. :) When it comes to moving on, I feel like you just know. You're a talented writer, so it'll come eventually. Best of luck on the next project!

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    Replies
    1. Sharon, you are so sweet. It does feel like a 'loss' but I'm trying to see it in a positive light. Thank you, as always for your support.

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  7. I am sure it is different for everyone. Maybe check how you feel about it in a week? Like you wrote above, "It has to do with where you are in your day, what you've accomplished or not accomplished, if your kid drew on the wall with a black sharpie, it all has an affect..." I think, until you have removed yourself emotionally from this setback, it is time to pause, at least.

    I want to thank you for this post--and for being so candid. It is not easy. And I have not encountered many posts dealing with rejections.
    Kudos to you.

    Good luck, and hope that you feel better soon. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Teresa - I think your right, that I should continue to 'check in' with BookEnd and see how it feels. Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Also, I wish more people would talk about rejections candidly - it's like a guilty secret. The problem is, since people don't really talk about it, it's easy to believe that *you're* the only one getting rejected. Nope, sister, it's happening to everyone!

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  8. It's never easy to give up on something you've written. However, I think it's easier to think of it as putting it on the shelf for a while. You can always bring it back out later time. I think the important thing is to never stop writing. No matter which book you're sending out, never stop writing.

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  9. @Becky and LG - it's so good to know that writers I admire (yes, you guys) have been in the same place. It helps so much to know that I'm in such good company. And sometimes a 'stop' is not a surrender.

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  10. You never lose a book you've written. :) It goes with you to the next book. And if it's right, the book will call you back to work on it someday. I had a book that took two years of gathering dust before it called me back to make it what it needed to be.

    And the next book will be better than this one. (I think it almost always works that way, at least for the dedicated writer.)

    And no - stopping isn't giving up.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Joseph - you are right, nothing takes away that accomplishment. And I can't unlearn what I learned with this book - thank goodness. Onward!

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  11. I wish I could come through the computer and give you a huge hug! I know this is tough. Just having started down the querying road I know this is a real reality and I guess you try to prepare for these moments, but what I'm hearing is you are never REALLY prepared.
    I'm sure you've heard it a million times but I'll say it again...DON'T GIVE UP!

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    Replies
    1. Deana, you're really so sweet. Thank you for the virtual hug. Part of the reason I WON'T give up is because of the awesome online writing buddies I have!

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  12. I can totally relate. I have an MS from last year that I haven't queried in a bit. I considered getting back on that, but then realized that it just isn't as strong as my current querying work. Why would I be sending out my weaker work? I could argue that the topics differ enough that one might draw a different type of agent. But seriously, I can't get behind it myself enough anymore. I don't disagree with the rejections. You know?

    But, as for your, 13 isn't a lot of rejections. Are you sure this one is ready to be shelved?

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