I haven’t sent out a query in close to five months.
This isn’t a “woe is me, look upon my face and witness a terrified, frightened child staring at the face of an unknown future.” No. It’s not that. Life gets in the way when you’re an unpublished author. You have friends, family, TWINS in my circumstances. (You wouldn’t think have two babies at the exact same time would be tough…but you’d be wrong in thinking that. It’s babies. BUT TWO OF THEM.)
If you want to see how often I get interrupted, go check out the work threads I’ve been compiling over in my Twitter.
Turns out that, for no reason that God or science or magic can explain, sometimes your baby just doesn’t want to nap. Like, at all. They decide, one morning, “You know what? F*** naps!” And then no naps. For days and days and days. This means no writing. For days and days and days.
I’ve spoken before about how importance self-forgiveness is when you’re a writer, especially if you’re also a parent to newborns. I’m definitely not the guy to write the book or make this entire blog about that topic, but this is the mantra that I continuously repeat to myself: Forgive yourself. You are trying to, essentially, be a creative with two adorable, pudgy weights strapped to your ankles. That’s not easy to get past. Some days the weights are light, allowing you to run, but others they cement you to the ground, meaning there’s no writing for long stretches of time.
And long stretches of time when nothing is being accomplished can feel lonely. And empty. And futile.
It’s incredibly easy to get that “spinning your wheels” feeling if you’re not constantly sending out queries to agents. Even for me, who is not actively querying because the book I would be querying with right now (as it’s the most complete) is in rewrites, it’s easy to feel this way. You feel like every passing day is a wasted opportunity, like you’re letting your best years, best days, go by. You should be sending it out, every day, every hour, making sure as many people as possible get their eyes on your manuscript so they can begin fighting in the most gruesome bidding war ever!
That’s not the case, though. Logically, that’s not what has to happen. Rewrites, like what I’m doing, need to happen. Research, accurate, thoughtful, has to happen for each agent you’re considering sending to. Careful consideration of your work, making sure it aligns to what the agent wants, has to happen. Each of these steps takes time, days even, before you can hit that ‘Send’ button.
So, yeah, it’s okay to feel like you’re not accomplishing anything. It hurts even more when you see an agent you’ve considered sending to post on their social media they’ve signed two to four new clients in the time that you first found them. That can feel like space is limited like a game of musical chairs, but instead of music there’s words and instead of chairs it’s YOUR ENTIRE HOPES AND DREAMS.
Writing can be broken up into smaller chunks. Tell yourself this.
Every logged note, each frayed and imperfect piece of dialogue, every new plotted scene, it all matters. It has to. It absolutely has to. If you weren’t going to write it down now, then you were just going to write it down later if it mattered enough. So, good, you wrote four words on the side of a napkin from your takeout. GREAT. That’s four words less than what you would’ve written later and, barring you not losing it, you can type it up when you get a chance.
It’s all going somewhere. YOU are going somewhere.
I have to tell myself this, otherwise I’d lose all hope.
Then I’d have a real problem.
Thanks for reading,