This past winter I sent out my first ever query
While I was waiting for my agent to respond, I was sucked into the internet vortex....
Do you remember in school waiting for an exam to start when the room was abuzz with people comparatively speaking to study notes? It was enough to send anyone into cardiac arrest: " Did you study this? Did you study this? I studied this because he said that it would be on the test and….”
I felt very much the same when I was addicted to googling agency blogs and experiences, reading other prospective author’s one sheets and queries and falling into a web of comments.
Don’t get me wrong, the internet has been an invaluable resource as I have kick-started my writing journey. Success stories, tips and hints, agency blogs and query and proposal samples helped me craft my own proposal and most recently my first one-sheet.
But, there was a brief period of time when my incessant searching was more detrimental than encouraging. Having already emailed my query and then my first pages, I would flit and fright and fuss while comparing what I had done with what others had done.
I second-guessed everything and stirred myself into a frenzy of worry.
I wanted to recall the emails I had sent to my agent and scrap and start fresh. I wanted to curl into myself like a turtle and give up writing altogether. I could cross-stitch, I could take up water colours, I could learn to sculpt beavers out of soap stone…
Writing takes a lot of self-confidence, putting yourself out there takes a lot of self-confidence; but it also takes a lot of integrity and personality. YOUR personality. You are not like other authors. You may relatively compare to them in your themes, story and structure; but no two authors are alike, no two experiences are alike and no two success or failure stories are alike. By spending time measuring and weighing myself against the rubric of what I found in the writing community online, I lost sight of the fact that what made my work special was the fact that it was mine. That my lovely little unique stamp was on my story idea and my bio and my query and then my proposal. No one else’s.
The internet is a wonderful tool. I love the author community I have met and the friendships I have nurtured and the inadvertent mentorship I have found. I love the tidbits and encouragement and suggestions and tools and I love reading agent and author and publishing blogs. I am obsessed with this world and think that the start of my journey has been stronger because of it.
But, there is a fine line between using the internet as a step ladder to achieve your goal and using it as a crutch to nurse your own insecurities and help you fall into a net of feeling not good enough. Not ready enough. Not original enough. Not up to snuff.
There has to be balance, I think. For those of you waiting on word: from an agent, from an editor, I suggest you take a break. You’ve done a lot of hard work. You have put yourself out there, you have taken all the reams of self-confidence you are not sure you ever had and flung your ideas and your precious little book world out into the universe. You deserve a break where you’re not consistently second-guessing yourself. Bury yourself in encouragement. Talk to author friends about something other than the cut-throat and insecure world of publishing. Instead, geek out on the adrenaline-fused, endorphin-surging power of fresh ideas, falling steadfastly, hopelessly in love with the next character sprouting in your mind, reading books and articles and websites that make you strive to be a better writer while not forcing you to acknowledge any deficits you worry about in your own journey.
Or… take a few weeks and ignore anything about the written word online and google pictures of cute cats or otters who look like BenedictCumberbatch.
Time well spent .