I’ve been in the query trenches for eight years. I’ve queried and shelved several books in that time because of the market. My latest book, a romance with paranormal elements is still being considered but it’s not looking good. It’s got a ghost in it and some believe that makes it paranormal but it’s a retelling of Phantom of the Opera with a real ghost and the protagonist is a male opera singer.
But I digress. I’ve had several Twitter and Facebook friends get agents this past month (yay for them!) Back in January when I started querying my phantom book (and entering it into online contests) I was sure I’d have an agent by June. I loved writing this book and felt like it was “the one.” The one what, you ask? The one to get me to the coveted realm of agented authors so my book can go on submission and sell a gazillion copies and be made into a movie and I can go on a book tour…I digress again.
It’s June and no agent for me. The market is tight for paranormal right now. I don’t write for the market because the market changes. I write what I want to write. Fantasy, paranormal, zombies, dystopian. See a trend here? All glutted in the market. Okay, so now I’m trying my hand at a YA dark contemporary thriller and boy, has it been hard to write. First of all, it’s a subject not many want to deal with in YA (rape, sexual abuse, serial killers, violence, cutting, suicide) and second of all, I’m slightly out of my element here. But it’s a book I felt needed to be written. Will this one be “the one?” I have no clue but I keep going. And that’s what I wanted to talk about today.
Did I feel like I wanted to quit this week? Yes. Did I quit? Sort of. I declared to my family that I was “done with writing forever.” I do this periodically and I’m like the boy who cried wolf because they nod and say things like, we know and it’s okay and you’ll figure it out. But this time it felt more real than it ever had. I thought long and hard about why I write. Did I only write to get published? Well, I’ve done that with two small presses and Kindle/Nook. So what keeps me writing? One of my family members said, “What would you do if you didn’t write? It’s part of your identify as a person. You are a writer. It’s not what you do, it’s who you are.”
And you know? That’s true. I went ONE WHOLE DAY without writing anything. I stayed off social media, I didn’t check email, and I stopped looking at Querytracker (great site BTW for keeping track of queries). What did I do? I read. I watched TV. I applied for jobs (because you know…writer and I need to pay rent). The next day I woke up sad. I had nothing to look forward to. No writing to do. I did have three plots I was tinkering with (one was the dark YA) but I reminded myself that since I was no longer writing, it didn’t matter. I could still do things. I went for a walk. I read some more. I talked to family. I brushed my cats and played with them. I did the dishes, the laundry and all the while, in the back of mind was a tiny, little voice that said. “What about me? My story is waiting to be told. Tell it!” So, I sat down and wrote just a few words about my main character. Not the story itself, just a snapshot of what she looked like, her goal and then I wrote one for the love interest and one for the antagonist. By then I was hooked and in the past four days I’ve written half of the story.
So, what’s the point of all this, you might ask? Yes, you’ll have down days, days when it feels like no one is willing to take a chance on you, days when you’re so low, even the floor looks like it’s too high to climb up to . But those days pass. And it’s important to ask yourself, why you write and why you keep writing. If it’s part of your DNA, like it is in mine, then you’ll keep writing, even if no one but your cat hears your words. Is it a compulsion? Probably. Will I stop? Nope. And the next time I am upset or down on myself about a rejection or whatever and I tell everyone within hearing distance, I’M DONE. I QUIT. I know exactly what their response will be.
GO WRITE SOMETHING.
So that’s my advice to you. Write something. And keep writing. And to quote one of my favorite movies:
NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER.
Kathleen S. Allen
Find Kathleen here:
Tumblr blog is here: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/kathleea
Author Central page: amazon.com/author/kallen
Books available online and in print
Book trailers available on You Tube
Book trailers available on You Tube
Wattpad stories: http://www.wattpad.com/51224789-birthright-entire-book?utm_source=web&utm_medium=link&utm_content=share_reading&ref_id=2023464