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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back


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#1 F. D. Sawyer

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 01:20 PM

Hi, I rarely do this (talk about my feelings) but I'm just really having a bad week...I just need someone to listen or perhaps just typing this in cyberspace where no one knows me will be lethargic enough.
So, I got a hit on a query...the agent wanted to check out my style so I sent her the requested materials...needless to say it didn't grab her like she thought...okay I can deal, at least I got someone's attention with my query (that horrible, terrible beast of a thing that I despise writing).
So I keep my chin up...I found a blog and entered a contest...the winners get to send the judging agent some of their manuscript. So I enter, what the heck, what do I have to lose? The agent said she couldn't make a fair judgement on the matter because she wasn't sure if it was a prologue...I can understand it was the prologue...but the rules stated the first 250 words, so I complied. The agent said my writing was high and I was one of the few complimented (I hope that was a compliment, I am going to pretend it was). However, I was not a winner...I can deal with that too. However, those chosen were not as well-crafted...they were chosen based on their idea and not by the actual writing. Here is the problem...I'm not saying I'm wonderful (who knows for sure) but the work would have been eaten alive in my college classrooms.
I critiqued fiction for five years in college and I think I can distinguish the good and the bad...but why is the game being played so topsy turvy? Why pick a piece with bad writing based on the idea alone? Wouldn't you need both? I cannot wrap my brain around it.
Now, I feel like a huge failure. I look at my twin boys and just want to burst into tears because I know I can offer them a better life if only someone would give me a chance...just one chance to prove that I am what I was born to be. I have studied fiction so hard and I do the best I can, but it's never enough and the darkness slowly creeps closer to me.
If this is not what I am meant to do, then why do I have over one hundred story lines in the works? I wrote three books in one year and I even changed the mind of a college professor on genre fiction, but I cannot for the life of me sell my work.
I write for the passion...the the strange high my brain seems to get when I create new life and prose. I've tried to quit, to let it rest for a while, but it won't let me (I don't know what "it" is but it is burrowed deep and it's inoperable). Perhaps a little gremlin has taken residence in my brain, found it to be a solid mass of slush, and has decided to be my creative muse for giggles. Gremlins are strange creatures, who knows why they do the things they do.
I'm sorry if this is whiny or weird...I just needed to get this off my chest...thank you for listening, I guess it would be reading. I rarely share my feelings because I don't want to be seen as weak, but dangit something has got to give before I break. I just need to rally my inner strength and this is a place that understands. Thanks everyone.

#2 TBruce

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 01:53 PM

Hang in there - believe me, I know it's rough. 75 rejections, in there only 1 request from an agent and one request from a publisher, and then I got an offer (from the publisher, a rejection from the agent). I've had two more rejections come in since the offer was made and one more possible request for a full so my total would be 109 queries sent over EIGHT MONTHS (for a book that took 2 years to write and was my second book, the first one took nine years to write, so I've been at this almost twelve years at this point), 77 rejections, 3 requests for fulls, twenty something never heard froms. Not stellar stats and there was a lot of dark nights, trust me. And it is frustrating when you see stuff that you think is crap getting accepted. Trust me, I've been there, too. But here's the thing - *we* think it's crap, but someone else liked it. Which means, somewhere out there is someone who likes our stuff, too. Because it's all subjective. There is no intrinsic "good" or "bad," really. Just people's opinions.So keep plugging away. And make your own opportunities - I got sick of waiting so I started releasing one of my books online. And I'm connecting with readers, getting positive re-enforcement (and ego stroking which helps keep the sadness at bay), making friends, etc. Self-publish if need be. You are such a prolific writer (though be sure you are getting those three novels a year thoroughly critiqued before you send them out) that you have the happy option of producing enough work that you can keep trying until something sticks. And try getting some short stories published, that is often a good way to break in. Have you looked at indie presses as well?

Be sure to celebrate the successes no matter how minor - if you get personalized feedback, if you get a request (even if it ends in a rejection), if you get a compliment on your writing from a fellow writer. These are all the things that keep us going! And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate!

--Terri

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#3 Kristina

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 01:54 PM

I write for the passion...the the strange high my brain seems to get when I create new life and prose. I've tried to quit, to let it rest for a while, but it won't let me (I don't know what "it" is but it is burrowed deep and it's inoperable). Perhaps a little gremlin has taken residence in my brain, found it to be a solid mass of slush, and has decided to be my creative muse for giggles. Gremlins are strange creatures, who knows why they do the things they do.

That's what I want to hear from a writer. Only a true writer says 'I write because I can't make it the other way'.
As for the contest, I think it is moronic to choose someone based on the mere idea, without anything else to prove that one can write well. Let's repeat the old cliche - be an optimist. Go on working. <insert some supporting emoticon here>
“I am not afraid that the book will be controversial, I’m afraid it will not be controversial.” - Flannery O’Connor

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” - Richard Bach


“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” - Anton Chekhov

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#4 J.K. Hogan

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 02:42 PM

I really don't know what to say to make you feel better, just know that every single person here most likely knows how you feel to an extent, and has been right where you are. It sounds like you have a handle on your writing and you have confidence in it. Maybe you just need to work on your proposal style to make sure that some of that passion comes through in it. (I say this without having read any of your writing, queries or synopses).

Another thing that may help is to find yourself a mentor (some people find it in their crit partner), someone who has been through or is going through what you are that you can just let it all out to. I am so, so lucky to have the support of a best-selling author in my genre who has always made herself available to me for advice or just encouragement. I can't tell you how much it's helped--along with the folks on this site.

Just don't give up! When you look at your kids, just think about what it will show them when you finally do get that one perfect agent/contest/publisher, and they'll see how you never gave up and you were able to make your own dreams come true.

Good luck!

w/a J.K. Hogan
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#5 F. D. Sawyer

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 03:00 PM

Thanks for the support! It really helps. I made myself go out and buy the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents after I wrote my rant. Pretty soon the agents will get tired of me and they will be forced to take my work so I will leave them alone, lol. I saw a quote at the bookstore from Alice in Wonderland, it's something like..."I think of six impossible things before breakfast." It will be my new motto. I will admit I do need a critique buddy, I would just feel bad because my boys take up so much of my time (not complaining, but it's true) I don't know if I would be able to critique a whole book. I've tried to start a writer's group in my area, but I haven't come across any :(
Things will get better. I love quoting Stephen King's book...."Everything's Eventual". Thank you so much for putting a smile back on my face (my gremlin thanks you too, he's hungry). :wink:

#6 Darke

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 03:34 PM

I want to add something here--don't EVER compare yourself with other writers. They're path is not your path. I know how frustrating it is. I was in a critique group a few years back and when I read the chapters from the others, well, lets just say it was less than poorly written, but guess what, they're stories were picked up by agents because of the genre they wrote.

Pissed doesn't even begin to describe my emotions. Here, I'd been writing for almost 25 years, been members of workshops, did crit for crit till my eyes crossed, have numerous short stories published in online magazines, and nothing. The only gratification I have, is these writers still have not put out a book, even though they have agents. Remember that, just because they had agents doesn't mean their agent will sell that book to a publisher, PLUS there are other things that could keep their book from ever seeing a bookstore.

Just keep writing. Your showing your children that no matter what, never give up on your dreams. :)

~I am neither an author nor a writer; I am a storyteller with good grammar.~

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