For those of you who didn’t know – I went to a Writer’s Conference in October and had the opportunity to sit down with an agent and talk about Broken Vows. Surprisingly, he was interested enough to ask me to write a proposal and email it with my first three chapters. Holy Cow!
For those of you who follow me on Facebook – you saw me whining about my anxiety and insecurities enough that I’m sure you wanted to block me from your news feed! ;-) For anyone who didn’t, thanks for being so nice!
If the stress leading up to the conference and my agent appointment wasn’t enough, I found myself completely overwhelmed when he asked me to write a book proposal! So much so, I ended up with a head cold and fever blister that left me ready to remove my head for a week!
C.S. Lewis once said, “Experience: the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
He wasn’t kidding. When I returned from that conference I spent a week on the web getting a crash course in writing a book proposal. The agent knew this was my first foray into the professional world of publishing; even so, I didn’t want my proposal to be weak. I didn’t want to come across as the scared greenhorn that I am!
Not having anything to compare it to, I feel I wrote a pretty darn good book proposal. He found it compelling enough to move on to the chapters of my book. Phew!
Alas, that’s where this particular journey ends. While he felt that my topic and theme are needed and poised to become popular in the Christian Romance market, he didn’t feel my writing was strong enough to pursue at this time.
Thankfully, he was very kind. He pointed me to some blogs to learn more about my craft and suggested I work on my “platform” to make myself more visible to readers.
Was I disappointed? Sure. Surprised? No. Relieved? You bet!
I learned way more than how to write a book proposal through this process. I learned my true goal as a writer and what is needed for me to feel satisfied, as if I’m fulfilling my purpose. And it isn’t what I always thought it was.
I love to write. I feel it in my bones. If I don’t write for too long I start to itch inside, like I’m having withdrawal. This desire is as much a part of me as the color of my eyes or my addiction to chocolate. I can’t escape it. I enjoy it. Creating characters and other worlds is fun! Many times it’s also cathartic and allows me to work through some of my own pain and demons or helps me make sense of the insensible of this world.
When I sat down to edit my manuscript and write the book proposal it was the first time that writing ever felt like work. I learned how to do both, and learned how to do them well, because it’s necessary if you want to get anywhere in the world of professional publishing. It’s also part of my inherent nerdiness. When I learn, I learn the right way the first time. It’s never half-a**ed.
I sent the proposal off with a sigh of relief and sat back to wait. While I waited I realized that I was now more afraid of him saying yes, more afraid of success than rejection.
Because if this manuscript went beyond this agent and got selected by a publisher it would mean more work. Editing, revision, marketing, etc. I could easily see the joy of writing getting sucked away by the process of publishing.
The day writing becomes work for me is the day I no longer want to write.
That epiphany made me really look at why I write and what I want to achieve. Beyond writing for my own enjoyment I only have two goals – for my work to be read and for my story to connect with my readers.
I’ve already accomplished both of those goals. Sure, there are no books in a book store or on anyone’s Kindle. I’m not making a cent when someone chooses to read my stories. However, the prestige and the money are not the things that flame this desire.
I feel content and satisfied to have my works posted on Watt Pad and watch the stats climb as new readers add me to their reading lists or vote for my stories. I have plenty of friends and family who have read my stuff and are excited to pass it on via word of mouth.
So even though my first foray into the world of agents and publishing has hit a dead end (at least for now), I don’t care. I may choose to pursue it again in the future.
Right now, I’m happy to take a break from writing and focus on the rest of my life. I have two small kids who need my time and attention plus a “real” job that I happen to enjoy, once you get past all the political red-tape.
Above all else, writing remains something that I enjoy. It remains fun.
I’ve got enough work in my life. I don’t want writing to be a part of it.