Warning: This post is (overly) emotional. I’ve warned you, so please do excuse me.
I recall bragging for a while that if I get rejected by an agent I’d accept it with a smile, simply glad that I took this initiative.
I have never been more wrong.
There is so much emotion put into the process of Preparing-To-Query and sending out the query letters, that I now know why some writers break down when rejected.
I went to campus to pick up my History Paper, and seeing that I did very well on it, I became all optimistic. I thought: today is my day, today is the day I can conquer the world. So with much confidence I went to the library at my university to start emailing my first batch of query letters. Yeah, I couldn’t even wait to get home to do this. Three hours later I was still sitting in front of the computer. With icy, trembling fingers. There was a void in my chest when I sent my last letter.
For half an hour afterwards I wandered the streets. How well the weather reflected my mood. A veil of rain was falling from the gloomy blue sky. In my mind I kept thinking to myself that I probably formatted my cover letter wrong (the query letter, sample chapters, and synopsis). But more than this, I was disturbed by the newness of the stage I had stepped into. I’ve been in the writing-and-revising phase for so long that to move out of this comfort zone was totally unsettling.
When I wrote the Pre-Querying post I was so certain that what I wrote in Post-Querying blogpost would be brimming with triumph.
Needing to settle my overly sensitive nerves, I stepped into a coffee shop to get a drink. I sat down and stared at my Chai Latte (my new obsession thanks to Rowenna) for a long long long time. I wanted to curl into a ball and sob. The reality of publishing finally struck me. By querying it meant I wanted an agent to expose my manuscript to the world. Expose my heart. How would the world accept it? Would they love it? Would the hate it? Or even worse—would they not even notice it? I was filled with so much self-doubt. I came to the point where I asked myself if publishing was worth all the effort.
Something inside me, in a quiet voice, answered: Yes.
After that I put all considerations of putting an end to my aspirations aside. Silly goose, I called myself, you need to grow up, you need to move on, you need to be strong. Embrace the challenge.
Ah. Now that I’ve put my feelings down into words I feel MUCH better. Yes, writing is indeed therapeutic. Now I feel light enough to go prancing about once more.
Nothing will deter me from Let[ting] The Words Flow!
23 thoughts on “Post-Querying emotions: Tummy Butterflies Died then came back Alive”
ah!!! I’m filled with nervous excitement for you!!! How many did you send out? Did any of them give you reply time period? I know you’re nervous and might go a little crazy, but it’s still awesome that you got this far! A lot of people start writing and don’t finish the story or finish it, but don’t do anything with it. YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING WITH IT! And, and, and, then I can add you to my list of published authors who I have purchased o.o
I sent out eight but am planning to send out two more.
Yes, I’m doing something I suppose, so should be proud about that…it’s all so nerve wrecking though! Haha one day soon you’ll be in my position sitting before the computer for hours sending out letters!! I hope you’re experience is more pleasant than mine!!!!
Good luck, June! I know you have a LOT of success coming your way!
I was TERRIFIED when I sent out my queries. Like, my hands shook, I thought I’d vomit, and I had such an adrenaline rush that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I double-checked, then triple-checked my wording, making sure i wasn’t misspelling an agent’s name, making sure I’d followed agency guidelines.
At the same time, there was something utterly exhilarating about querying–about knowing my query letter would be read by REAL agents (or their assistants/interns), and that I was taking THE step towards professional publication. It was a total rush–and quite an adventure. I received rejections from agents I thought were SURE to love my project, and requests from agents I never hoped would take the time to consider me.
It’s a rollercoaster, and make sure that you enjoy it, even if the rejections stack up. As Tolkien aptly wrote, “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” I look at my querying process as a learning one. I cried for HOURS after I got my first rejection, and couldn’t bear the thought of writing for a MONTH. The second rejection, I cried for an hour, didn’t feel like writing for a week. The third rejection, I cried for thirty minutes, and recovered in a matter of days. Needless to say, by the time my agent offered representation, I had a steel-clad backbone.
Developing bulletproof backbone is essential–it gives you the survival skills you need to face later parts of the publishing journey…to face rejections when editors pass on your project, to keep your chin up when you see other people getting ahead.
And, just because I’m cheesy, I’m going to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite books ever–TARAN WANDERER, by Lloyd Alexander. In this quote, the hero is learning to make a sword as a blacksmith’s apprentice, and the blacksmith gives him a bit of advice that has stuck with me:
“‘Life’s a forge!’ cried the smith, as Taran, his brow streaming, beat the strip of metal. ‘Yes, and hammer and anvil, too! You’ll be roasted, smelted, and pounded, and you’ll scarce know what’s happening to you. But stand boldly to it! Metal’s worthless till it’s shaped and tempered! Face the pounding; don’t fear the proving; and you’ll stand well against any hammer and anvil!’
I know you’ll stand well against ANYTHING that comes your way, June! 🙂
Thank you so much Sarah…
I felt much better after reading the quote you closed your comment with. It was very inspiring. Everything you say is inspiring in fact!
I had better check that book out during my winter break since it’s a book you love so much. Makes me curious.
You know the rejection letter from yesterday? The feelings are kicking in now. But I’ll be strong! I’ll get myself a strong backbone
I honestly didn’t get too emotional. I sent out 150 queries at once. Rejections came pouring in immediately, and that made me happy; I was actually doing it, I was actually getting responses! The next few weeks were exciting. I got some partials, more rejections… I was just happy that I had finally done it.
I had told people that I was ‘working’ on getting published for years. I didn’t actually know what that entailed, but I knew it involved writing books, first, and though I had no idea what came next I knew I’d figure it out one day. Someone mentioned literary agents. I started to research them, and decided they were definitely something to have.
I met Chris, my best friend and ‘true love’ I guess is the word. We upgraded our jobs, anticipating the future we would have together. I figured, now that I’m being an adult and all, I better take responsibility for my own future and actually get this writing thing done.
Months later, in December, my agent found me. She requested a partial, then a full manuscript, then the next three books. We had a phone conversation, which I took in the conference room at my office. She offered representation.
I was happy, but I didn’t cry or scream or jump up and down. Actually, I did jump up in down, but in private, and only because I thought I should. I tested it out, you could say. Yeah, not me.
I called Chris, then my parents. They were excited, but they’re worried about everything, and tried to lecture me on literary agent contracts (which they know nothing about, lol, but in my parents minds the world is out to get them). The extended family was proud, but they didn’t really know the significance of my achievement.
Getting a literary agent wasn’t one of the happiest moments of my life, perhaps because I understood it was the first big step in a long journey. But, I had proven to myself that I could do it. Finally, there was something more to qualify me as a real writer other than my word for it.
Six months later I began my freelance writing company. Having a literary agent lent me credibility, and got me my first job, then my second, and my third, etc. I’ve really appreciated it in that sense.
In other senses… next month will be my one year anniversary with my agent. We’re finally out on submissions (or subs, as Sarah affectionately likes to call them). It was my fault because I took so long to edit. I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but as time goes on my hope becomes more dim. Someone will love my book, probably, but there’s always that feeling of ‘what if?’ What if they don’t? What if no one thinks it’s a good fit for them?
I always use Fictionpress to back me up in my doubts here. I think, ‘surely all those fans couldn’t be wrong. Those editors are waaaay off if they think my book won’t sell.’
The big thing to remember in querying is that getting an agent is, like I said, only the first step. I didn’t get all fangirly about it because I’m a logical person, and overanalyze my emotions a lot, but I hope you go absolutely crazy when you get your agent, June. And then tell us about it. 🙂
Savannah! This is totally off topic but I love your display pic thing. I at first that it was a Pre-Raphaelite painting.
Anyway, they way you put your querying process down, I feel more hope. Even if I get rejected by all the agents in my first batch I have a hundred more to go…
And you’re right. Getting an agent is just the first step. But is it true that it’s the hardest step? I read somewhere that it’s more difficult to land an agent than it is to get published. Maybe that person was wrong. I, obviously, would not know.
Wow. Absolutely fantastic. You did it. You really did it, and I’m so happy for you. I couldn’t imagine what you were going through when you sent them all out…but I can tell that it was both unnerving and exhilirating at the same time! June, you are brave for “exposing your heart”, as you said. Writers are, more often than not, isolated and introverted beings, and whom (understandably) hesitate in showing their work to the world. But June, you are definitely a writer, and this hesistation I think is absolutely normal. This publishing business is afterall the BIG STEP! So you are brave, brave like every writer starting out in the publishing industry. You are on the journey now, and I wish you the very best of luck!
As a side note: I wrote a response to your other blog but for some reason it didn’t submit properly, and I couldn’t be bothered writing the whole thing again. Anyway, I finished my exams and now have alot of free time on my hands! Writing here I come!
Yay Kim! I knew you’d read my post. I was even going to leave a message on your wall just incase you were busy to tell you that I started to query.
Thank you for your encouraging words! They left me smiling all day. And I know it’ll me in the future cheering you on as you start to send out your query letters.
I can’t wait to read more of Faux!–if that is the piece you’ll be working on that is!
Dilemma June! I have a pretty bad habit of getting sick of the story I’m writing…and for some reason, I’m getting quite excited about X again! I recently re-read it and all these ideas started to pop into my head. Ergh. Ergh. My sister said X is better, even though she has only read one chapter of Faux. Not to mention that X is easier to write, since it is actually in third person. Yeah, I get sick of writing “I”s all of the time. Hmm…I will think on it some more.
Gosh, I just wish I finish a novel already! GAARRRGGGHHH!
Sorry, just wanted to vent. And you’re right, it feels better having to get frustrations out in writing. I hope I didn’t scare you.
Yah I find third persons easier to write as well.
Anyway, I’m super glad that you’ll soon find time to write! Whichever story you update I’ll be faithfully following!!!…(when I find the time. Probably during my winter break. Exams are nearing for me).
I also have a bad habit of getting sick of the story I’m working on. TRC is the only lucky project that managed to reach the end. The other stories I thought and planned it to death. Other ones, I was so eager to complete it, that I rushed it, making the story very blah.
Glad you like the chai! I had one last night…while writing, of course! Emotional turmoil completely understandable–you took a huge step, exposing yourself not only to criticism and rejection but to the possibility of success, as well–and a lot of uncertainty. Being willing to take that step deserves praise–what’s that old saying about the bravest step of the day being the one out of bed? I think the same goes here.
And you know what? Rejection isn’t that terrible. Well, impersonal form rejection isn’t that terrible. I haven’t yet had what I consider a “real” rejection–a rejection after a request. I’m sure it’s coming (I’m a strangely optimistic realist–I envision the downsides, and when they come I’m rather cheerful about them, having already prepped myself). I opened the first rejection, thought “well, that wasn’t so bad” and moved on. And requests? Brief, electronic affirmation. I’m sure you’ll get plenty 🙂
The current stay-sane plan, by the way, includes diving into the next project. Have you begun envisioning the next great story you’ll tell? It helps immensely that I’m growing attached to new characters and little lines of prose now, so that I’m not sending my only eggs off in a rickety basket. Keep us updated!
Yes, my rejection lettter was pretty impersonal. But today I just kept thinking about it. And kept worrying…what if I get rejected by all the agents!!! What would i do then? What if my story is too unconventional a piece for the genre?? Or maybe it’s too mediocre?? gahhhh. So many doubts. I’ll feel better soon though.
I would LOVE to try and start a new project but–I’ve been trying fot the past year and it was of no avail. I ended up doing a rewrite of TRC.
I’m sending sparkly thoughts your way.
[insert everything everyone else has typed up in their comments to you here]
I can’t wait to hear all about your query quest!! (I even was a nice gal and linked your blog from mine today because I thought your QQ and your last form rejection..)
You know what, though? If you look at your overall process:
– writing TRC
– getting it plagiarized
– rewriting TRC
– rewriting TRC
– rewriting TRC
– rewriting TRC
– writing the query letter
– revising the query letter
– sending the query letter
– now becoming a compulsive e-mail checker
You did A LOT!!! You accomplished and went through a lot of ups & downs and you have made it this far which is A.W.E.S.O.M.E.
I am cheering for you!!! 🙂
That was such a witty comment! I loved it. Made my day…well…it’s one in the morning, so yes, my day has begun. I’m still up because I just finished deleting my story COMPLETELY from Fictionpress. There were some reviews I would rather not an agent come across.
Oh I am honoured that you thought of me when writing in your LJ!!!!
Must go check it out not *rubs hands together*
i’m so proud of you, June! i’m sure you’ll do wonderfully! i admire your resilience and optimism. don’t ever give up, or stop writing, no matter if your work is never published – you said it yourself, writing is therapy, and what’s more, it is a god-given ability to express ourselves. keep putting your heart out there! so many of us already love it! best wishes… 🙂
You’re right. Writing is a god-given gift which is why I therefore believe that it should not be kept selfishly for the self but shared!
I know you’ll be in my position oneday soon! You had better! You’re such an amazing writer.
For me it is all about the sense of community. I have hung out around the fringes of music for many decades and have friends who are famous and some who are not very talented. I am somewhere in between I guess, and did three CDs along the way.
The main thing for me is the relationships I’ve developed. Writing is about the same so far. I’ll be a doc to the end, probably get a book ot two out there eventually, and most likely never be rich or famous for it. What counts for me is the friendships. My guess is if I’m an old man in the nursing home and you are a famous middle-aged writer you’d still check on me if you were in the area ’cause we would go back to when neither of us was known whatsoever.
That is the benefit of art to this old doc. You’ll never be rejected by the true artists.
Well, that’s certainly a different way of the published books.
But the getting there is so….depressing. At the moment it is.
It’s not an easy thing. Getting rejection letters. I’ve received two so far.
Hey June, I’m just about to watch Wuthering Heights. But, look what I discovered! Apparently it’s based on ‘erotica’, but it looks reasonably sensible. So just in case you haven’t come across it:
I just checked it out! Hmm I wonder where I’ll be able to watch this. I actually read the book before. It is truly scandalous!!!! You should try reading the first few chapters. Your eyes will pop out. The novel, written in the 18th century I believe, is more erotic than some of the eroticas of the 20th century
oops not the 20th century. 21st i meant haha. This is what happens when my mind is mostly in the Regency Era
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