Monday, September 13, 2010

Friendly Butt-Kicking on Courageous Querying

So a few days ago, I asked for reader questions, if ya had them, and there were a lot of really good ones. I'm slowly going through them and this time I wanted to tackle a few related writing-business questions.

I was asked if I'd show queries/ queryFAILS/ post on queries. Such things already exist! Lo and behold! I was also asked how to get an agent (see above posts on queries!)(if that doesn't cover it, tell me what else you want to know).

And finally, I was asked how I kept from being discouraged in the querying process, and if I'd gotten rejected, and how I handled it. This, I'm afraid, is going to be a rant.

In any creative pursuit, you're going to get rejections, roadblocks, people shouting no, and people whispering no, and worst of all, people just shrugging because they don't care enough about your work to either love or hate it. There is no path to making writing equal dollars of any size that doesn't involve rejections at every stage of the way.

I could tell you that it doesn't matter, that they are just words, that everyone gets rejected, that none of them really mean "no," they just mean "not yet," and all of those things would be true. But none of them are enough.

Really, what it comes down to is this: you have to choose courage.

At some point, you have to decide that this is the path you're on, come hell or high water, and rejection isn't going to bother you. Distress just isn't an option. Your heart is an impenetrable box and the slings and arrows of outrageous industry gatekeepers or critique groups or your partner are not going to nick the surface. Choosing courage isn't a complicated process -- it's a decision, but the hard part is, you have to mean it. I started submitting manuscripts when I was sixteen, the same year that I decided that I was sloughing off all my phobias (I had quite a few) and took up the bagpipes. I decided I wasn't going to be afraid of anything anymore. And I meant it. That's the important part. It's not a phrase you write on the mirror or chant in your car or work up to. It's just a statement that becomes true the moment you yourself really decide it.

So when I tell people that none of the rejections I got bothered me, it's true, because I decided before I started submitting that they weren't going to be worth my distress. They're informational, that's all. They showed that I was really working on becoming a professional and where I was in the process. Do you get sad when the low ink light flashes on your computer printer? It's just a fact, something to work around. Save your emotions for your drafts and put on your high heeled ass-kicking boots for your queries.

In the end, being brave is just as easy as being afraid.

11 comments:

Crystal Cook said...

Thanks Maggie :) I think that I, um, was one of those people who asked you about this. And it's something that I KNOW, I tell myself this all the time, but still sometimes I let myself be afraid. I don't quit, I will NEVER quit. It's not an option. What I'm still letting be an option is how I react to those rejections. And all the time I waste indulging in self pity.

I think that sometimes I forget that it is a choice, just like you said. I GET TO CHOOSE how I feel.

Starting now, I choose courage.

And I MEAN it!!

And your post came at a good time for me since I just got a rejection two days ago and have gone through spurts of wallowing and "I'll show you!!" type feelings.

Once again, thank you. This really helped me :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shot of courage! Bloody brilliant!

Linda said...

Whenever I get a rejection, I just remind myself that it's not personal. They aren't rejecting me as a person, they're just saying my work isn't right for them. Besides, rejection is actually a good thing because I want to work with someone who's ecstatic about my writing, not someone who's on the fence or thinks its just okay.

tammara said...

Thank you, Maggie. You're just awesome.

(I'm going to look for those ass-kicking boots, cuz I think I may have stowed them away in the back of the closet... and it's time to get 'em out.)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Sorry about the above, stupid errors. lol.

Great post.

Everything you said made sense. I never thought of seeing rejection as another step on my journey. Being brave seems much healthier than being afraid. :)

LupLun said...

That was well said! Reminds me of that awesome story about Johnny Ramone and Paul...

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Thank you, Crystal, for finally making me post this! And yeah, Linda, it is the opposite of personal -- you're just another name, there's no reason for it to hurt more than a phone bill (although I've been there where those hurt . . . )

AnneB said...

Thanks, Maggie. I needed that!

danaalisonlevy said...

Hey Maggie-
This is a great post, and I'm hoping to make a (slightly awkward) segue from this to the subject of sharing your writing with early readers.

I'm hoping you might consider a post about some of the nuts and bolts of effective critique partners/beta readers. I have read your past posts about finding such great ones, and about how important they are to the process. Now I want to know a little more about what you've found works best, for you at least (I realize different writers work in all different ways).

But for instance: Do you always have all betas read the same draft at the same time then have an actual phone/IM/in person chat about it? Do you use some betas for some drafts and others for others? Is it better if your crit partners are also each others' crit partners (as opposed to two total strangers you hooked up with at different times)?

I am just starting the nerve-wracking process of having others read my drafts. Some readers are in a local crit group. Others I've found online (and we're just test-driving each other). The logistics of who is reading what, and how to best make use of their time and skills, is snarling me up somewhat. Any thoughts to share?

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Dana -- sorry this took so long. But yes, my crit partners both read each others' work as well as mine, and they all read the same drafts that I send them. It's better to have them both commenting on the same draft because then I can see what is the same and what is different between their opinions. Also, they do it independently of each other -- I don't want their opinions to color the crit.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...