It’s the first Wednesday of the month, time for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I’ve been participating in this group since its inception, and have written of my many frustrations and insecurities. After last month’s post, I asked myself, “Do I complain too much?” I thought I probably did and planned on writing about that today, but once again, I found myself discouraged by events, or the lack thereof. So if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me, I’d like to get something off my chest.
As a writer with a novel ready to go, I’ve been busy polishing my query. It’s been a while since I actually queried any agents, but that’s because I still have a few requests pending. But even though I’ve emailed the agents who are currently reading my novel, I haven’t heard back. And that’s discouraging.
I figure it’s because my story is not quite ready yet, not quite there. If it was, wouldn’t they have called me by now? So, since sending out those requests, I’ve further revised my manuscript based on feedback from other agents. I feel pretty confident now, because I’ve been busy reading and studying books on craft. The most recent two, The Fire in Fiction and Writing the Breakout Novel, were written by literary agent Donald Maass. After reading them, I noted all the important factors that make a novel great, and I can honestly say, I’ve included most of those, at least the ones appropriate for my genre. But even though I’ve made some important revisions, those factors were already in there, before my last round of requests. So what’s the problem then?
I have a premise and plot that are plausible with inherent conflict and gut emotional appeal, and with my unusual twist, it’s pretty original. It has high personal stakes that continually escalate, and I believe the reader can sympathize with the strong protagonist, who while is sometimes dark, he also has inner conflict, self-regard, and strong relationships with the other characters. The voice is authoritative, clearly articulating a personal belief system through dialogue that snaps with tension and immediacy, and the setting is linked with emotional details. And most importantly, from the word go, it’s filled with constant tension.
So what gives? I can only surmise it’s the writing, though I’ve been told by my critique partners that it’s pretty darn good. But is that enough? Hmm, I wonder. Maybe it’s just the timing and the fact that adult thrillers aren’t selling like they used to. I keep thinking, if I just had more agents reading it, someone is bound to love it as much as I do, as much as my beloved and talented critique partner, Lisa Regan does.
But to do that, I have to have a kickass query. After Matthew MacNish critiqued my query last week, I worked every day to fine tune those points he and his followers commented on. I feel I clarified those key questions and am now ready to go. Of course, now it the holiday season, so I’d be crazy to start querying before New Year’s. It’s just one more thing to frustrate me. But I suppose, if I’ve learned one thing in the last twenty months, it’s patience.
What about you? What frustrates you about writing, querying, and publishing? And what have you learned from your frustrations?