One More Time

I was frothing with surprise and delight for a while today.

The morning’s email brought interest from three agents. They wanted to see more material from April Showers 1921, a surprise. I thought that all interest from the first round of submissions had died (accomplished in October, 2019). I was regrouping for another round of submissions.

I also thought how odd it was that these agent things happen in clumps. But then, I submit in clumps, and the agents describe similar processes and response times. It shouldn’t be a surprise when they respond in clumps.

What WAS a surprise was an agent expressing interest in Four on Kyrios, the first novel of the Incomplete States series (five books). I submitted to her in February, 2019, ten months ago.

(A pause to consider that I’d finished writing a five novel series last year (Incomplete States, 430,000 words), and then wrote a novel earlier this year (April Showers 1921, 180,000 words), and now I’m finishing a third book (To Begin, 73,000 words so far). And yes, that does please me. Plodding along at about five pages a day does start adding up. Especially when I remember that Incomplete States and all of its support documents (side stories, character, planet, and cultural histories, etc) added up to one million words.)

Although it’s exciting to receive the emails from the agents, after reflecting, I thought, well, I’ll do my writing session today, and then try to respond to these agents tonight. I wasn’t being contrary or sabotaging myself, but in thinking through where I was and who I am, I enjoy the writing process, I’m enjoying writing the current novel, and I have momentum. (The muses are being friendly and I don’t want to alienate them.) So, although my goal is to find publication for those previously written novels, writing the current novel entices me more.

It’s a curious sensation. Yeah, I seek publication beyond the self-publishing of the four novels that I’ve already done. The agent interest is validation, in one sense; someone is interested! In another sense, I shrug; I’ve always written for myself, creating mysteries and logic problems for me to solve, building and expanding worlds in my mind, and discovering characters who emerge as people to me.

I’m also a tinge jaded, reconciling myself, yeah, you’ve been shown interest by agents and editors before, and it’s come to naught. (Really, are you so cynical, Michael?)

Yes, I am. More than cynicism, in the course of writing novels and following a quest to be a better thinker, story-teller, and writer, I’ve fallen out of concern about what others think about my writing. I can argue that some of that is self-preservation (and perhaps a tincture of imposter syndrome). See, if I don’t get excited, then I’ll be less dejected if the agents decline my project. That’s the theory.

It’s also short-sighted; being in a bubble of my own thinking, reading, writing, and criticism means that I don’t receive feedback that could help me grow.

Yes, true.

So, being cynical, jaded, short-sighted, and dubious, writing, with all of its challenges and frustrations, is more immediately rewarding and satisfying. Solving these self-made issues generates a sweet dopamine infusion. Perhaps that’s the lesson — and warning — that I should really find in my response today: I’m a writing addict, looking for a quick fix.

Today’s news does want me to treat myself to a scone or muffin. Comfort food, I believe, to help cope; the potential for advancing also carries the angst and burden of failure. Have something to eat, right? It’s a humorous pattern.

Yet, again…there was that time when I came across a woman reading my novel at a Starbucks here in my town, a cool experience. I’ve received feedback from readers about how my they’ve enjoyed something I’ve written, which was a powerful jolt to the ego. Multiple those intangible rewards by the potential that being published on a larger scale could bring.

Also in passing, though, I do enjoy reading my own work. It’s fun to read what I’ve written, and it often surprises me. I understand what that says about my process and being in the tube. What was originally conceived and written (in my methodology) frequently evolves under editing, revising, refinement, and polishing. I write to know what I think, and I rewrite to clarify it and deal with loopholes in my thinking (and plotting and problem solving).

As a final piece, of course; this is me, today. Me, tomorrow, or yesterday — or even later today — might respond differently. Moods (and the hopes and expectations related to them) are dynamic. Hence, I needed to write all of this out just to think about it, a prelude, perhaps, to discovering how I feel.

Well, it’s all thinking fodder. Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Got to feed that addiction, you know?

 

 

Bang Bang Bang

I had three agents interested in April Showers 1921. Bang, bang, bang, all three came back yesterday and this morning, and said, “Thanks, I’m passing.”

Bang.

Conspiracy, I thought. They’re all conspiring against me. Then —

Rejection.

Dejection.

Frustration.

Depression.

Shrug.

Reset.

Go on.

Check on the other places where I’ve submitted. Remember that three out of the original twenty (which later turned out to be eighteen) were interested, not a great percentage (let’s not do the math, okay?), but still, somebody. Hey, I’m a writer. I’m required to be moody, temperamental, pessimistic, optimistic, and stubborn. At least, that’s what my muses insist.

Meanwhile, there are other agents. I’ll submit to them.

Meanwhile, there’s another novel being written, and it’s a lot of damn fun.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Boom Days

Boom days are here. I’ve had four or five great writing days in a row. The muses have arrived on time and sober each day and fed me the tale, sharing character details, pointing out the story arc and plot lines like they’re good friends. They’ve been amazingly generous…so far.

Ah, good times. One hundred pages are completed, twenty-seven thousand words, on It Begins, the novel-in-progress begun at the beginning of this month. I know, doesn’t sound like much, but this is the foundation stage. Once things are established, the story starts flowing more quickly. Ten main characters have been introduced. Think of it as And Then There Were None, but in reverse.

Having multiple main characters with separate points of view and varying story arcs complicates matters a little. I solved that (for now, at least, as it’s working) by focusing on one or two characters, writing their scenes until they reach a major plot pivot point where the first three characters stopped. Today, I continue to focus on Selena, the four-year-old. She amazes and surprises me.

I’ll take the boom times. I know from my experience that there will be bust days sooner or later, forcing to take a deep sigh and a long swallow of coffee, gird myself with grit teeth, sit down and type, damn it.

But for now, all is well.

Meanwhile, I’ve not heard anything from agents on my previous offering, April Showers 1921. Three expressed interest a few weeks ago and requested more material. That was sent. Now I wait. Is longer time of waiting good or bad? It’s a Schrödinger situation, innit?

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

 

Writing Reflections

A friend’s question prompted some post-response thinking as I conducted my pre-writing walk.

Before 2014, I wrote six novels. I never edited or revised them, and never sent them anywhere.

Between 2014 and 2016, I wrote four more novels. Since 2016, I epublished them. None did well. In fairness, I barely marketed them. I still remain fond of Returnee.

Since 2016, I’ve written five more novels. I haven’t published any of them. The first four were the Incomplete States quadrilogy that begins with Four On Kyrios. I shopped them to forty agents or more. None showed interest.

I finished April Showers 1921 last month and began shopping it with agents. Sent it to twenty. Three agents are showing interest by requesting more material.

Progress?

Last week I began writing another novel. The writing is the thing, you see. The new project has me laughing as the muses pitch crazy new twists on the whole thing. It’s the fun stage. It’s hard to keep up but I’m going to try to enjoy it while I’m on it.

Of course, like ocean waves, it’s not all linear, writing a novel. Ups and downs, setbacks and advances, excitement and frustration are ahead. Each will probably be endured multiple times in the months it takes me to write, edit, and revise this piece. That’s part of the process.

Got my coffee. My ass is in the chair and the computer is on. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Disturbing Results

He didn’t know how this fit into anything.

Completing his manuscript, including revising and editing it, he scoured the net, found a dozen prospective agents, and sent it off to them.

Three weeks later, he hadn’t heard anything from any of them and decided to beat the net to see what was happening with his prospective agents.

Imagine his surprise when they all turned out dead.

Well, he’d always thought it was a killer idea.

Agent Submissions

wish agents submitted to my will, but they’re impressively resilient.

That’s not what I’m writing ’bout, as you know. I’m addressin’ the other sort of submissions, the one that requires you to send agents your writing, seeking a pinkiehold on the path to traditional publishing, which, as we all know, also brings us fame, fortune, and immunity from ever doubting ourselves again.

Right?

As I’ve refined my submission process in this go-around, I’ve come to think of it as job-hunting. Instead of a novel or proposal, you’re submitting a resume when you’re job hunting.

They have other similarities.

You peruse every source you find for potential places to submit.

You submit as much as you can.

You wait and hope for positive responses.

You keep going until you’ve signed somewhere.

What ’bout you? How’d you approach it?

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