#Amquerying

If I were to tell you that the query process has been pure fun, I would lose all credibility. In the moment, it was anything but an enjoyable process. The business side of writing is tedious work. Somehow I endured, through countless revisions and rejections, endless edits to my synopsis and multiple versions of my query letter. Still, no matter how prepared I felt, there was always a sense of dread after hitting send, releasing my work out into the world to be judged.

And there were many judgments made. Slowly they trickled in to my inbox, each highlighted in red on my spreadsheet, mocking me each time I opened the document. There was also the apprehension of how my work would be received, the horror stories of other writers warning me of the cold and impersonal nature of the query process. There were also the tragedies—yes—the offer that I never received, which I learned of long after the fact, and had been rescinded for lack of a response. Somewhere out there it became tangled in the web and siphoned of all its promise.

But there was one thing no one mentioned to me about the query process. Sure, it is daunting to approach established agents and publishers, knocking at their doors and asking for a moment of their precious time. The reception I received from many agents and publishers was far from cold, in fact it has been quite the opposite. There have been many rejections, but the feedback has also been generous. Many have been kind enough to offer a personal response, even compliments. I won’t mention any names, but to all the agents and publishers who responded, I give you wholehearted thanks. Each one of you made the process that much easier and offered a glimmer of hope during the process.

Are you still scared to query? Don’t be. Remember that writing is a people business. Today’s rejection and your response could open the door to tomorrow’s acceptance. Follow-up with your submissions when allowed, be professional and courteous, and always remember you are asking someone to invest in you and your writing.

It’s the people that make the business side of writing the pleasure it can be. As writers, we are always working to build relationships with our readers but shouldn’t neglect those relationships that bring us to our readers, namely those we develop with other writers, literary agents, and publishers. If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve already surrounded yourself with fellow writers. It’s the first step in getting your work out there, and the solid support group needed to survive the wilderness of querying.

Querying isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be—it’s the step in the writing process that separates the writer from the hobbyist. It’s the first step in opening your work to criticism and learning how to accept that criticism—and the surest way to grow as a writer. Put your work out there. Forget the horror stories and prepare yourself to be amazed by the all the talent that exists within the world of writing and publishing.

As for my queries? Let’s just say it’s come to a happy ending. But that is another post all its own.

Happy writing,

H.A.

 

Raised on Writing

Those hours bounding both sides of midnight are special to me. That’s when the magic happens: the distractions of the day fall victim to their slumber, the sound of the breeze is no longer obscured by the activities of living, and on it rides the seeds of inspiration. The late night hours are a mystical time for this writer, a time all to myself and my imagination.

Closing in now on a year previous, I was approaching the thirty-thousand word mark of my current work in progress. Those were evenings I’ll always remember as this creation began to take shape and reveal itself to me as the pen glided across the page. There is always a peace and humility that writing stirs within me. The marathon pacing of novel writing extended those feelings long after the evening waned to morning. In part, it’s what keeps me coming back for more.

Not long after that night, our second daughter arrived. She was our very own plot twist, by greeting us a month earlier than anticipated. Active in the womb, she was ready to throw all in to the fray of life. Looking back, I cherish now the extra time we’ve been granted to share together.

I’m the late night parent. Always have been, and always will be. I’ve always sacrificed sleep to write or get in an early morning run. You only live once, why sleep it away?

Our daughter was perfection in miniature form. But perfect as she was, her body was small and fragile to the world around her. The attention required of a premature infant – mainly the frequent, small feedings – meant little to no sleep as I pulled the night shift. With every ninety minutes the cycle repeated: diaper change followed by a feeding. Unfortunately, like many infants of her term, she developed severe reflux that prevented her from lying flat after each feeding.

Instead her small head rested in my palm and her swaddled body followed the curvature of my arm as I cradled her close to my body. It was the only angle that seemed to keep what small amount of formula she ingested from working its way back up her esophagus.

Writing became a memory for those first couple of weeks. All the while ideas swirled through my mind as my daughter and I spent many an evening together enjoying the magic of cool, moonlit autumn evenings. As the nights ended, we watched as the frost sparkled through the sun’s rays piercing the cool fog. I’ve witnessed the beauty of countless sunrises with her in my arms – far more than I’ll likely experience with any other soul.

We both adjusted to our new schedule. The following two months were short on sleep but long on cementing the bond between father and daughter. Soon I found myself typing away with her cradled securely to my chest. The words flowed again, as if I never stopped. My inspiration took in petite breaths beneath eyelids quelled shut by quenched hunger, until she would awake again, reminding me of all that was perfect in our world.

The rhythm of the keys became her lullaby those first few months. When I reminisce about the process of penning the novel, those nights always appear front and center. Was I creating a writer? Maybe, or maybe not. In the least I’ll be able to recount those nights to her, reliving those precious moments for myself, while the wonder of it all stirs her creativity.

And that work in progress? It’s doing just fine, having been nurtured and polished to near perfection over those many nights. I’m certain it’ll soon find a home all its own before making its way in the world.