Tuesday, April 21, 2009
WIP Wednesday: Lessons in Self Doubt....
Look where self doubt will get you.
I made a pact with myself a month or two ago that I wouldn't query any more agents until after we got back to America. There were several interrelated reasons for this. Querying just throws me into a funk; I was getting obsessed with it. And when we have this HUGE move back to America in a month and a half, I can't afford to be in a funk or obsessed. Not to mention that if any agents show interest in my project, I'll probably become even more obsessed. In addition, there was the confusing question of my contact information: here, there, where am I? Last thing you want to do is confuse an agent off the bat -- right? (Someone say, "Right!")
I still let myself enter several contests. This is where my self doubt came in. I wasn't expecting them to go anywhere. They were good experiences; I could get critical feedback on my work. It didn't count as querying because it was just part of the learning process.
Well, surprise, surprise. After a discouraging start at the Secret Agent contest over at Miss Snark's First Victim, with lots of people telling me my first 250 words were confusing, they didn't like the description, they couldn't relate to the main character ... voila! The Secret Agent wrote that she liked it. It worked for her. She was curious to read more.
Talk about being floored. I've read that writers should expect success, but it's hard to actually do that when all that ever arrives in your inbox are form rejections. I think I mentioned before that I'd just rewritten the first chapter mainly to give the reader a better first impression of my main character, one that wasn't based on a difficult conversation with her mother. Well, apparently, this new approach worked for the Secret Agent, who turned out to be Kate Schafer Testerman from KT Literary.
I was awarded Honorable Mention for the contest, which meant I could submit my query and first three pages to Ms. Testerman. (Yes, I could've done that anyway, but the reward was that Ms. Testerman would be expecting my query. I wouldn't be part of the huge pile of slush.)
Oh dear. Queries. Back to the pact I'd made with myself. I was in a quandary about this. Should I just go ahead and query? Or should I wait? And the big question was, would Ms. Testerman wait for me. If she got the query in June, would she wonder what the heck had taken me so long?
Some of you might think I'm crazy and I wouldn't blame you. I wrote Ms. Testerman a note explaining why my query would be delayed. The whole time I was writing the note I wondered if I was shooting myself in the foot or doing myself a favor. Either way, the deed has been done. The note has been sent.
The silly self-doubting thought now on my mind is realizing that, from what I've heard from writing friends, Ms. Testerman is an extremely quick rejector. I might have a measure of too much self confidence thinking this might go anywhere. If I'd just sent the query, I might be reading the rejection right now in my inbox and that would be the end of that. No need for all this fuss.
On the other hand, maybe I've learned my lesson about self doubt. It's better to plan for success. It's better to be prepared, then to be caught with your pants down saying, "Uh, sorry. I really didn't think I'd win. This isn't exactly a good time...."
Ahh, live and learn, my friends. We live and learn.
In a fun side note, while perusing Ms. Testerman's very cool website, I came across this fun contest she's hosting on writing the world's worst query letter. Some of these are pretty funny. You can click here to read them (in the comments section). Enjoy!