So here's what not to do. You remember those posts from the beginning of the year? If not, scroll down the page and take a gander. I haven't posted much this year so they're still easy to find. To summarize, I was all enthused about my novel FAMILY JEWELS. It turned out great, it showed wonderful progress in my own skill as a writer and was receiving positive attention from agents. I insisted, even if this one didn't work out, I was on my way. I would not be defeated.
And then I did something stupid.
I bought into the attention. The attention was strong and it was quick, and it was from people whom I wanted to receive attention. You know those lists you're not supposed to talk about where you have your favorite agents (pieced together from their clients' works, their online presence, and perhaps meeting them at conventions despite the fact they may not be the best fit for you). Yeah, we all have that list. Well the top of my list jumped on my query. Multiple full requests, private messages over Twitter, the whole thing. It's the kind of story published authors tell later. "I thought my early work was so awesome but it was shit. But I kept working and working and when it really was ready, it all happened overnight." And it certainly did feel like it was happening overnight. Two days after my first round of queries, I had multiple full requests. Holy shit, ride that roller coaster! And they were from people on my top five. Including the agent I've wanted to work with most since before she became an acquiring agent and was still an agency assistant. This is IT! Woo hoo!
So I did something stupid.
I waited for my happy ending. I stopped querying other agents, because I was about to get my happy ending. Why would I want to dangle my genius in front of them only to yank it away to work with the person that as about to ask for a call at any moment. I waited. I started my next book. Actually, briefly, I started a sequel to FAMILY JEWELS, but I'm superstitious about that kind of thing, so I started a new novel. And then I waited.
Then I focused on the beginning of the roller derby season and I did a LOT of roller derby. Also, I waited. Then I followed up because it had been a couple months now and I hadn't heard anything, which was odd given how so many people were interested at the beginning and that all of them should suddenly fall silent at the same time. Did the internet break? I didn't get the memo. That's all right. I have this new novel and I have roller derby.
And then I did more derby. And I did less new novel. And I did MORE derby. And I did less new novel. And then I stopped writing.
Because I'm stupid.
Four months of silence from people who showed an interest in my work more effectively killed my creativity than five years of rejections. If this is how the people who like your work treat you, what's the point? Of course, that's just my brain pouting. People have reasons. They get busy. Their actual clients need attention. They change jobs. Who knows, but it's wrong to think it's malicious. (And less wrong to think they brought it on themselves, but we all have obligations, so I don't hand wave that away as easily. I allow a grace period where "overworked" becomes "unprofessional" and I'm still trying to figure out where that line is.)
Either way, I started writing again yesterday. I started by deleting 250 words and then writing 500 or so. They weren't very good. They weren't very bad. But they were more than I had written in the weeks before. Last year, I was hip deep into my second draft. In years before, I was usually on my second novel. This year, though, I'm still on a first draft, and for all my inability to ever give up writing, my enthusiasm for professional publication has been smothered by months of silence.
I'd say I almost prefer rejection, but that's stupid. There's still that chance I'll get an email saying, "Sorry about not responding for forever and a day, my hamster had cancer and things have been hectic here. I loved what I read. Is it still available?" and I'll be able to answer, "Strangely enough, it is."