We’ve left the Year of the Rabbit and entered the Year of the Dragon. It’s time for me to document some of what happened in late 2011 that led to the mysterious silence around here.
I can’t remember if I’ve talked much about INTO DARKNESS PEERING. I started working on the manuscript to pass the time while UNBONDED was out on submission. I figured it was a fun back-up project to help keep me sane while we tried to see if any editors would bite on wanting to make UNBONDED into a trilogy.
I didn’t start on the sequel in case we only sold it as a standalone, and this turned out to be precisely the correct thing to do because not only didn’t UNBONDED sell as a trilogy, I ended up asking to have it pulled from consideration because some trends in the feedback made me want to re-write it.
I got 12,000 words into the re-write when my former agent told me she was going to be leaving the publishing industry and I would need to seek new representation because no one at MTM was able/willing to take me on. It’s kind of funny, as I was struggling with the re-write–something in my sub-conscious was screaming at me that what I was doing was wrong–every sentence felt like I’d squeezed it from a stone. It turns out my ‘radar’ was spot on because not only was losing my agent personally stressful, it also pretty much signalled the death of UNBONDED as a saleable manuscript (it can be very tricky for a new agent to take on a ms that’s already been shopped around and rejected), so my re-write (had I continued) would have been for naught.
Thankfully I’d completed an initial draft of INTO DARKNESS. If I was going to find a new agent, I needed a new project.
I sent out some queries and started getting requests. A lot of requests. I should have felt buoyed by this, but I couldn’t get past the disappointment of being in the query trenches again. I knew the idea for INTO DARKNESS was awesome, but I think in the self-doubt that came with having to find new representation, I allowed myself to believe I hadn’t done it justice.
Self-doubt can be killer. It’s insidious and almost impossible to escape.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t write a word during the entire month of December because that evil little voice had me questioning whether or not I could handle writing professionally. It didn’t matter how many little accomplishments I had indicating that yes, I really can write, the fact I’d been knocked off-stride by losing my agent negated every. single. one.
Thankfully I’m too stubborn to quit. I decided I would only query my top choices for agents and agencies. If I didn’t receive an offer of representation from anyone in my top ten (plus half a dozen referrals to agents my former agent thought might be a good fit) I would stop querying until I had a different project to query. There was no way I was going to feel like I was begging for a new agent, knocking on doors hat in hand, and waiting to be lifted from the gutter of obscurity.
I decided self-doubt and I had to part ways. If I was going to keep playing this writing game, it was going to be on my terms. I wanted the best damn agent in the industry, and I was determined to write a novel capable of netting me such an agent.
Losing my agent really hurt, but I found an inner strength that reminded me I started on this journey because I love to tell stories. This journey is about me, not about my agent, or about editors, or about Amazon, or anything else. It forced me to re-evaluate my priorities and my motivations, and truly clarify what I wanted to accomplish with my writing career.
I know where I stand and nothing, not self-doubt, criticism, or anything else the world of writers or readers can throw at me, is going to shift me from this point. My goals are crystal clear, and the strength I’ve found means I’m not going to compromise or settle for less than where I see myself going. If I’m not ready to reach a certain milestone yet, I’m not going to give up or search for a closer goal post; I’m going to draw on that inner steel and work my butt off until I reach the goal that rings true.
This is my game.