I sent my first query for my first manuscript in the beginning of 2013. I thought the manuscript in question was fresh and fun and awesome. Actually, I knew it was fresh and fun and awesome, because I’d had a fresh and fun and awesome time writing it. I thought all my jokes were hilarious and my main couple was everyone’s new OTP and my worldbuilding was brilliant. I’d been having a generally bad time in the real world and this manuscript had fallen into my head and brightened things up, and I was sure it would do the same for agents.
Spoiler alert: it did not. I sent eighty-one queries and nothing came out of it except a few kind full rejections. And with distance, the problems with the manuscript are painfully obvious. The worldbuilding is laughably thin. There’s no plot to speak of. One of the main characters lost his personality or possibly never had it in the first place.
I count this manuscript as a resounding success.
Not a publishing success. I should have put it through a more rigorous critique process. I should have taken longer breaks in between revisions in order to see it more objectively. I should have been reading more in my genre. But I count it as a writing success, because when I was working on it, I slipped into a state of mind where nothing else existed. Agents, queries, and “the market” especially didn’t exist. It was just me and the computer and this fake world populated by these fake people. And it was magic.
Publishing never gets any easier. First you’re seeing the people who’ve been querying for a shorter time than you signing with agents. Then you’re seeing your agent’s other clients selling faster than you. Then you’re seeing the lead title at your publishing house getting all the attention. Then you’re seeing something else, someone else, and somehow they all manage to be better at this than you. There’s noise, noise, noise, and the longer you stay in it, the louder it gets.
But you’ll always have your magic. When it gets tough, you’re going to need your magic.
#chillwritingtips exists to remind us all to stay in touch with the magic of sitting down and making stories. The perfect turn of phrase. The unexpected twist. The split-second when you lose yourself and feel like you’re really there in the story’s world. I tweet about this sometimes, in 140-character bites. On the blog, I’ll be pondering chill and writing in long form, and I hope there’ll be something here worth chewing on.