aqua fortis

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is Anything Ever a Perfect Fit?

Female Figure StudyI might only have one more drawing for you after this, at least for a little while--tonight is the last evening of Rob's figure drawing class, and then if I want to keep in practice, I'll have to go to the sessions downtown. Of course, Rob is happy because the semester is almost over; and I'm happy too, because we're both going to be less busy after that. (I've noticed that busy-ness in our house tends to trickle down...)

Then again, though, I usually find ways to fill my time, even if I manage to eke out some free moments. Reading is a big culprit. Today, though, I used some time well, and sent out a couple of writing-related queries. I have this quarterly Excel spreadsheet that I use to keep track of queries, and last quarter (Q1 2009) I did well, sending out a pretty decent number of queries--12. I hadn't sent anything out yet this month, though, after having gotten a disheartening clump of rejections around Feb. and mid-March. A few of those were from agents who I really thought might be a good fit--that's always disappointing.

But then, is there ever really a perfect fit right off the bat? I found a new place to query one of my novels today, and it seems like a great possibility: relatively new literary agency, actively taking on new clients, open to unsolicited queries, very interested in YA, interested in graphic novels and multicultural themes...I was excited. Then, after sending the query, I thought about all the other times I sent my work to agents who seemed like a great fit. At best, I got a sentence or two of explanation with the rejection. At worst, it was a friendly but generic "no, thanks," sometimes accompanied by a "not right for us" or "we're not quite enthusiastic enough."

And it occurs to me that there are probably 8 gazillion other would-be published novelists thinking the exact same thing at the exact same time, after reading the exact same online interview: sounds like a good fit. Cue the deluge for poor Mr./Ms. Agent. I'm sure it's not fun for any agent to go through the slush pile. And it's also not fun, as a writer, to feel like you're deluged with rejections. I know I'm nowhere near deluge status yet, though I'm quite well into the double digits. I read this article earlier today, thanks to Robin Brande, about knowing when to quit, and realized I've got quite a ways to go, in fact, to even call my rejections anything more than a trickle. Still, it wears on me. I'm getting rejections from all different walks of the writing world, too.

In many articles about perseverance in fiction writing, including the one I just mentioned, the authors casually mention how long they had to keep at their "lesser" writing projects--often editing, freelance article writing, short stories, whatever--as though these were no problem, no problem at all; just the minor stuff that keeps the writer writing and helps put food on the table. The truth is, none of that feels minor to me, and none of it's as easy as it sounds--the author of the article has that right. And as for when to quit...who knows. I just sort of vacillate between Impractical Career Prospect #1 (freelance art/design/fine art) and Impractical Career Prospect #2 (writing/editing), trying not to hear my parents' voices saying "I told you so" and trying to come to terms with the fact that I'm evidently not a normal sort of person who wants a normal sort of job.

And I keep trying. Even when I don't want to.


Beth Kephart said...

This all sounds enormously familiar to me—these thoughts, these doubts. We struggle—all of us do. We wonder if we are walking the right path. My own sanity is tied to keeping several proverbial balls in the air at once, so that those that fall to the ground don't make such a loud smacking sound while the still air-bound ones whiz by.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Me, least, that's what I try for. It helps me hold out hope!

Mary Witzl said...

Boy, do I know how this feels. It is such a long, hard slog; you do your very best, go over your work with a fine-toothed comb, then, after even more editing and angsting, submit it -- and when it comes back having garnered little interest or comment, you struggle not to feel discouraged. Sometimes writing feels like the greatest gift of faith I possess.

I keep trying too. Apart from everything else, it's nice to have something to aim for -- a dream.

Ethel Rohan said...

Rejection hurts, and often leaves me feeling bruised and battered. We have to love the work, bottom line. We also have to perservere and have faith; we will be sorely tested. Hang in there, and know that you are not alone and that you've been called to do this for reasons you might never know or understand, but have to trust ....

David T. Macknet said...

You'll get a hit, eventually, I'm certain. :)