For all the years I’ve been writing, brainstorming and toiling over craft, taking classes and swapping feedback, I’ve never gotten this close to actually submitting my work to agents. And suddenly, in the midst of a pandemic, during the most hated year of the millennium so far, it’s about to happen. I’m bursting with feelings.
First of all, I’m thankful that unlike so many of my friends who are encountering a creative dry spell, this long-lasting quarantine has provided me with endless time to take my writing seriously. Since April, I’ve gone through two more novel drafts, and I’m now working on what I’m hoping will be my last one. In the past week, I’ve also gone through several drafts of my synopsis and brushed up my query letter. I’m ready for action.
On the other hand, years of membership to online submission groups have prepared me to be realistic: I can’t expect that things will work out right away. Some people submit the same novel for years and years, and never find an agent. Of course I’m hoping that won’t be me, but what if it is? I need to maintain momentum, and stand firm in my convictions that my novel deserves to be read, that it will benefit the world is some way. I don’t have a great track record in coping with rejection, so I can only hope the thickening of my skin isn’t too painful a process.
I think the only antidote so demoralization is to always be working on the next project. Which for me is not a problem, because I’m only happy when I am creating. I know how such a declaration could come across. “Look at me, I’m so fabulously creative! I’m a true artist!” But really, when I’m not working on a story, I feel that there’s something lacking in my life. I can do it for a week or so maximum, before I start to question my entire existence. So as wonderful as it is to have such a drive, it’s also a curse. I find it horrifically stifling to have to focus my energies on jobs that distract me from my writing. My need to pay rent is in constant opposition with my need to create. Now that I’m between jobs again, I’m feeling the struggle more than ever. At some point, sooner than later, I’ll have to sacrifice all this glorious time I’ve been gifted.
There’s no easy solution to my problem, and so I’m blundering forward, ignoring it until it becomes dire, for the sake of my art. I want to be fully present as I start the submission process. I want to take meticulous notes on who I’ve queried, and why, and be sure I follow every last instruction, so as not to have my novel eliminated due to carelessness. And while I’m doing all that, I also want to begin shaping that elusive idea, already drifting in the back of my mind.
I want this to be my life, and if I don’t allow myself to put in the effort, it never will be.