Thursday, February 23, 2012

The 4 (Sad But True) Stages of the Writer's Journey

The journey from idea to publication takes the writer through some strange and troubling times. At every turn the spectre of rejection appears, ready to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Still, we soldier on, marching to the beat of our own private drummers, dancing to the personalized theme songs only we can hear.

I present the following illustrations of the Writing Life:

The Newbie Writer

There is a moment -- a split second, perhaps -- when the "I Think I Want To Write a Book" bug has bitten us, but the bite has not yet become a raging, systemic infection. Before then, we could turn our back on the Creative Muse, walk away, and live a normal life. Afterward, however, we are never quite the same.

We discover that the wonderful way with words we always prided ourselves upon having is not nearly as prevalent as we had been led to believe. Words, those tiny little chunks of communication, suddenly cease to be our friends and declare endless coups on our creativity and our confidence.

 We've all been there at one time or another. The Newbie Writer looks much like this:

Sadly, after years of hard work, the scenario doesn't change all that much.

The Query Rejection

It's done! The magnum opus is finished! Edited! Polished! Vetted and gilded till it sparkles like a brooding vampire in the sun. It only took you a summer year decade to finish! The synopsis caused only fleeting thoughts of suicide and bouts of severe self-loathing. And the query, after 5 25 250 rewrites is as good as you can make it. So you send it out to 10 agents that you've cyberstalked researched.

Then you wait.

And wait.

Then, one day, it arrives:  The Form Rejection.
"Thank you for the opportunity to consider your work.  It isn't quite what we are looking for, and we do not feel strongly enough about your project to pursue it further."

It's the equivalent of this:

The Partial Manuscript Request / Rejection

Occasionally, the Law of Averages works in one's favor (much as the odd winning lottery ticket eventually occurs) and the Query gets past the Disco Ball of the Gatekeepers. Then the Powers that Be request a partial manuscript. Confetti flinging and mental bank account padding ensue, followed by an obsessive re-reading of the requested pages before sending them out, fingers crossed, praying to the publishing gods that THIS TIME someone will forget to say "No."

Time passes.

We start to think we've made it. Then, this:

... and the Broom of Doom sweeps away any thoughts we had of success.

Yet we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and live to query another day.

The Moment of Acceptance

It's here! We've finally made it! After years a lifetime of refusing to give up, the law of averages has finally tipped the scales in our favor! We haz acceptance! A bona fide publisher loves our work! Our book is going to be published, and we have the advance check to prove it!

This calls for a moment of private celebration:

Ah, but the celebration cannot last forever. No matter how old we are, the Muse is a harsh mistress. She demands our attention and respect. We cannot dance in the attics or rest on our laurels for very long. Time is fleeting, and there are books that still beg to be written...


Alyson said...

Sweet, sweet torture. Kills me every time and yet I still write another book. It's insanity!

Ami Hendrickson said...

So true. We die 1000 deaths for every book. We are insane. And yet we continue. We writers are an odd lot. :D

Kathy (from Bliss Habits) said...

This post is awesome!!