What Cannot Be Controlled

Still life of the unpubbed life.

Still life of the unpubbed life.

Is there a 12 step meeting for queriers?  Except I’m not really querying now, just waiting for responses on requested material.

Every afternoon, when it’s 6PM and I don’t have any responses in my inbox, I think, “Tonight after Art Child goes to bed I’m going to have a drink, so I will relax and remember only that it’s out of my control at this point.”  I even bought lemonade to go with the gin. Instead, by the time I would do this, I walk the beasts, have my 8000th cup of coffee or tea and go to sleep.  Art Child and Nerd Child have enjoyed the virgin lemonade.

The other day a comment was made by someone on the writers’ forum, to the effect of if the manuscript is good enough and the query letter is good enough, you only need one agent to request…if that agent rejects, the manuscript isn’t good enough.  The type of comment that always makes me freaking nuts. a) It reeks of sanctimonious superiority, and b) it isn’t true.  There are many reasons why a manuscript can be rejected, and not all of them have to do with the writing/story. I didn’t respond to the post, because I know I’m feeling overly sensitive right now as I wait for replies, and didn’t trust myself to do more than splutter.

I was thinking about this yesterday, when I walked past a local church and saw several people waiting to go in the side door.  I assumed for a 12 step meeting, but it could have been Bingo. Or something.  Anyway, it had me thinking about the whole Let Go and Let God approach to what’s out of our control.

Step 12.  Oh 12.  That’s the spiritual awakening.  What is the equivalent of the spiritual awakening here?  It could be an offer of rep, but it could also be the acceptance of when it’s time to trunk the manuscript and move on.  Maybe it’s the (to me) mythical ideal of writing only for oneself, being satisfied with or without validation. Damn. I’m gonna be asleep forever.  Spiritual coma?

To decide to write a book, to do so, to tell people you’re doing it…all of this requires not just a leap of faith but big brass ones.  To query, well, that means polishing them up to put them on display.  But then once the work is out, humility.

For the moment, I will contemplate cleaning the bathroom, and decide what to cook with the goodies I bought at the farmer’s market this morning.  And blast the iPod.  Nerd Child always has interesting new (to me) music.


And Then

The Story Thus Far

The Story Thus Far (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Revision hell actually hasn’t been too hellish.  Once a few things clicked, I was rolling.

When you think you can breathe a sigh of relief, you have to write a query letter.  And a synopsis.  Cue young Jamie Lee Curtis scream here.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, the final g...

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, the final girl of Halloween. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For my non-writer fringelings, a query letter is an introductory letter to an agent or editor, giving a very brief snapshot of your book in the hopes of enticing them to request the full manuscript.  A synopsis is kind of like a book report on the story, hitting the major conflicts, plot twists, and how the story ends.  Some describe it as the way you’d tell the story to a friend.  Some agents want a synopsis along with the query letter and sample pages, some want it if they request material, some don’t ask for it at all.  But you have to be prepared before you begin the querying process, so you’re ready to send everything requested (hopefully, see? I’m being positive) and not find yourself sitting in a puddle of tears trying to get it together and sent off before the agent decides your story really didn’t sound that interesting after all.  Or it’s still interesting, but you took too long, and they just signed two other new authors, their list is full.  Or, or, or.

English: Rejection

English: Rejection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have written and rewritten my query letter.  Actually, I’ve rewritten it about twelve times, and I think it might work now.  Time to work on the synopsis.   Shoot me, please.  It sounds so easy.  Tell the damned story.  Mmm hmm.  But trying to distill it into 500-1000 words, keep it clear, concise, interesting, not include every last detail but not omit anything that is important to the flow?  Here’s the thing, when you write a novel, you’re trying to make sure that every scene, every character, every detail raises the stakes, adds to the story.  Now figure out which of those all important and all contributing scenes and characters don’t actually need to be in the synopsis.

Just because you can write poetry doesn’t mean you can write an epic fantasy novel.  You might be able to write historical romance but not be able to pull off a picture book.  I occasionally have fun writing limericks.  Great for giggles, but with an editorial–or a serious reader’s–eye, they suck. I would never try to get them published, or showcase them to illustrate my writing.  Query and synopsis writing involve a different skill set than writing a manuscript.  Ready for the conflict?  Mrs Fringe has a completed manuscript and she’d like to find a literary agent.  To do so, she has to send competent, engaging query letters and possibly synopsis (synopsi?) to agents who seem like they might be a good fit for Mrs Fringe and said manuscript.

Today’s attempt at a synopsis left me ready to send a form rejection to myself, and scrawl a big fat YAWN across the top in red pen.

They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!

They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)