Querying an Agent is Terrifying

I am a prolific writer, and world-class yellow-bellied chicken.  I have finished drafts of seven novels.  I have queried zero agents.  Why?

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To a backwoods girl with big dreams, querying a “big-city” agent is terrifying.  Here’s why:

  • I have zero literary connections.
  • I have attended zero fancy writing conferences.
  • I have zero professional proofreading connections.
  • I have zero non-professional reliable proofreading connections.
  • I have almost zero social media presence.
  • I feel like no matter how many times I revise, my story is never good enough.

So where, then, to begin?

I have to change all those zeroes into positive numbers.  Attend writing conferences.  Make connections.  Join communities.  Social media a lot more.  For a twenty-something balancing her job, home life, two cats, depression and social anxiety, and trying to have a baby, that’s a lot to handle.

Whenever I get myself psyched up and motivated to rip off the Band-Aid and just start querying, goshdarnit, I start inquiring to Professor Google, which is the best/worst idea ever.  I wind up reading articles about rubbing elbows and attending lectures hosted by literary agents, and taking classes on marketing, hiring proofreaders, and my head starts to explode.  When will I find time (and money?) for all that?

Then the gremlins creep in.

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That little voice in the back on my head, judgmental and grating, demands, “Well, if you can’t find time for all those things, then you don’t really care about writing and you don’t want to succeed.  If you did, you would make time!”

And that’s simply not true.  I love my stories, I love my characters.  Writing has been there for me when the rest of the world seemed to be falling apart.  Yet somehow, I can’t seem to launch over that hurdle.  It’s all too big for someone as small as me, or so it feels.  I know hobbits can go on big adventures, but… mpf.

Writers out there – how have you made the transition from writing to querying… especially if you had to start knowing nobody in the biz?  Advice accepted and welcomed.

Where Do Stories Come From?

Close by, my Matthew had recently discovered – and devoured – the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini, and is presently listening to an interview with Paolini.  One of the first questions, as there always is, was asked: “Where do your ideas come from?”

Where indeed?

There are some books I read and find them clearly to be branches from the inspiration of other novels, and other still come from asking the question: “What if?”  The ancient Greeks invoked the muses, a practice that continues today as those with writer’s block complain that their muse is silent.

A friend of mine and I used to joke (okay, talk seriously) that for the two of us, we never meant to have a story.  Rather, we have the idea of a character in our head, and the character builds and grows stronger until they have a voice of their own, and with that voice, a story to tell.  Each character has an individual story, but as more of them grow, their stories intertwine, and for me, that is the novel.  My best example of this is Fate – the story has gone through dozens of transformations (it was originally titled The Circle of Magic) and most the characters have faded (Sean and Jessica alone were strong enough to endure), but they still scream in my soul until the words began to fall into place and I knew – I know – when something is off, and I’m writing something wrong.  And I write and write it again until everything falls together properly.

And then I go back and write it once more for consistency.

That is my method.  It’s a chaotic method, without plot webs or intentional lessons.  But my stories come as much from dreams as culture and history.  Others set out with a specific lesson in mind.  Others just write and write and write until their fingers fall off (non-literally).

I am constantly fascinated by authors – even those I don’t care for – sharing their origin stories.