Confession time: A few weeks ago, when I discussed writing without the safety net of a publisher or agent, I naively believed that my stay in limbo land would be a short one. That I would sign with a new agent within a couple months and have someone to hold my hand while I pivoted to a new genre. I also believed I’d have a new book written by the beginning of March.
Did I mention I was being naive?
A couple weeks into 2021, I’ve realized signing with a new agent wasn’t going to be as easy as I assumed. While being a multi-published author, I was able to jump to the front of the queue when it came to getting my material read, it didn’t guarantee that the agents would like that material. I very quickly received notes from my top two choices telling me weren’t interested.
That’s okay because the day before the second rejection, I came to an even more important conclusion. That the amazing story I was shopping to these agents wasn’t working. Despite my painstaking plotting, the story fizzled after page 80.
So here I am, in a place not all that different than where I was ten years ago. No agent, no publisher, and no manuscript.
I’m not going to lie. When the reality of my situation hit me, I was crushed. Listening to the other members of my writing squad talk about deadlines and their promotional plans, I felt like an abject failure. They had careers. They had people who wanted them to write for them. They had bright futures. I, on the other hand, felt like my only choices were going backwards or floundering while they all swam by me.
A ball of sunshine, I was not.
After several long talks with Captain Pete and members of my squad, I’ve come to a place where I realize I am not in as bad a spot as I think. If I’m honest with myself, I made a mistake in sending out my proposal when I did. I should have waited until I was much further along in the process. Instead, I let the anxiety of not having a safety net (and naiveté) force me into jumping the gun – a career-long problem, I might add.
Therefore, I’ve added some new goals to my 2021 plan. I’m going to practice patience by abandoning my agent search until I have a full draft of my book. I’m also going to work on redefining my idea of a legitimate writer. I’ve spent so long now writing for contract, that it feels dilettantish to be working without one. That’s untrue of course, so I need to remember that I am still a real writer contract or not. Of course, there will always be days when I feel like I’m falling behind the rest of the group. The key will be to maintain focus and learn to sit with the anxiety.
Finally, I’ll keep you posted on the process. Like I said in that earlier post, operating without a safety net is freaking scary. It helps if you’re not taking the risk alone – even if your fellow risk takers are just imaginary blog readers.
Thanks as always for reading (whoever you are!) Have a terrific week.