So, now that my website is up and running, it’s time for me to start the query process … A-gain. First of all, since 2013 or 14 I have sent out many queries in three different time periods. I’ve refined and re-refined the query letters themselves, the synopsis, and the manuscripts. My heart and mind say they are really good, yet I have yet to connect with an agent. There was one prospective agent about a year or so ago that asked for the full manuscript for Wild Rose and the Horseman (I’ve sent out queries for the first two novels, bouncing back and forth between them), but she kindly passed. I’ve discovered that agents and literary agencies are rather attached to certain genres and stories, so researching agents and agencies is crucial.
When I first began the query process, I remember sending out around five letters to different agents. When I quickly got five passes I swear the next day, it crushed me. From then on, for about five or six months (maybe longer), it felt horrible to even send them out, let alone hope someone would choose me.
For the previous three years, I was in bliss every time I sat down to write. I loved the crafting of the stories. But, as soon as I started the query process I was in this state of melancholy about the whole thing. Looking back, my frame of mind was horrible. I had been receiving a lot of positive feedback from my editor at the time. I was in love with my story, the characters, and I was building confidence in myself as a writer. But … I lost all that when I started to send queries to prospective agents and kept receiving rejections.
Then, I went into a spiral of sorts … I sucked as a writer. My story sucked. The agents weren’t looking for historic romance at the time. And even if they were, mine sucked. Why couldn’t someone choose my story so I could get on with my life? All I wanted was an income so that I could get my divorce and live comfortably on my own. So, I became obsessed with getting as many queries out as I possibly could, frenzied that if I did, I’d find someone sooner rather than later and I could be happy and get on with my life. Well …….. need I tell you, that that was the wrong mind frame to find an agent? Attitude is everything. Confidence is everything. Something else was at work here, though.
Tama Kieves, my author-guru, writes extensively about moving out of certain comfort zones when we’re trying to attain a goal, any goal. When I began writing, it was a struggle to self-motivate since I thought I had no idea how to write well. I had an inner drive that I couldn’t ignore anyway, so I bought a spiral bound note book and just started. That seemed to be the first step out of the comfort zone of not trying at all.
Then, when I started to get the hang of writing, I started to want to write, and had begun a second draft on the computer. The writing itself became comfort zone after a while. But … If I wanted to share this wonderful story with others which became the ultimate goal, I needed to get some feedback (pre-editor). It killed me to hand it over to someone, worried that they were going to think it sucked. Whoever would read it, besides my ever-supportive sister, would take one look at it and tell me to stop. “Just stop, Janne. This is the worst thing I ever read.” The sex scenes worried me the most. That reader would think I was a pervert. I was in such angst. Looking back, this was another step out of that just-writing comfort zone.
Each step out a comfort zone from those early days of writing has, without a doubt, been painful. But, each dark closet that I have walked into from the familiar light, always has resulted in a new light and a triumph over the unknown no matter how full of doubt my mind was. The doubt never goes away without that step into temporary dark. Tama Kieves likens it to diving into the ocean at night and just swimming. We have to trust that our dreams, our desires can be had.
I believe my people are out there. It’s how everyone else who supports me and my writing came to me. The query process is my only way to connect with that next person or persons. Remember, my ultimate goal is to share the stories I love with as many people as I can. Each person that has shown up so far has been the right person towards that goal. A stepping stone of sorts. Tama Kieves says that our people will show up at the right time. She calls it divine, or inspired time. I cannot even begin expect to connect when I’m full of fear and self-loathing, or when I’m desperate to get somewhere else besides damn here. That’s why knowing that the light is always better than the dark. It’s all about trust.