Thursday, October 24, 2013

In a Rut...

What is one to do when one considers themselves creative but has lost, temporarily I hope, the urge to create? That is where I am right now. I am firmly seated in the, "Well if it hasn't happened by now it's never gonna happen," world of creative writing.

As I look back at my query rejections, I see my earliest on record was in February of 2010. It was the result of my very first submission of a memoir covering the ten years of my life when my wife left me, came back, left me again this time with child, came back, left me again after a vasectomy, and I finally wised up and divorced her. Stunning, really, and at 300 pages is probably my worst work ever. Still, I hope I will be able to salvage it some day. I lived through a lot of pain and it would be nice to know it wasn't wasted just on me. I think many readers would love to see how I was gutted and filleted over a series of days and years. It's a lot like the process of trying to get published.

I am encouraged by a story Stephen King wrote about trying to get published and his first personalized rejection. In his teens he submitted a story to a science fiction magazine and received the rejection letter with a hand written note. Instead of encouraging words about his writing, it simply chastised him for stapling his manuscript pages. He placed that rejection on a nail in his bedroom wall, along with all the following rejections he received.

By the way, I tape the letter rejections to the cabinets in my kitchen. Emailed ones get put in a special folder.

Stephen King went on to write that after he had a couple of novels published, he came across that rejected story and resubmitted it to the same magazine. Of course, they were more than happy to publish it this time.

To exist on this planet as a published author, will that day ever come? It will require some spark of luck along with all the hard work. Will I ever be able to set aside the realization that I've worked very hard at something even though it's never amounted to much? Since that first manuscript my fingers have cranked out story after story. Picture books, horror flash fiction, novels, writing contests, on and on I write, hoping to hone my voice out of sheer exhaustion by the keyboard.

Sometimes it feels like I'm close. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to visit Paris this past summer by my very generous mother in law. It was exquisite, even with a sore back. While there, I felt as if I was in a storybook myself as I received an email from an agent asking to read all of the stories I'd written in a picture book series. How incredible! To be discovered while abroad in the city of lights! It was enough to make me want to drop my pants from the heights of the Trocodero and wiggle my manhood at the Eiffel tower. Sadly, I never heard from the agent again.The dream of Paris remained just a dream.

After that time of great anticipation and even greater let down, I hit a slump. I had plenty of ideas of what I wanted to write. It was annoying at times. The urge to write just escaped me. Then my six year old said something to me that kicked the creative juices. Soon thereafter I had written a middle grade novel. I wanted 9,000 words but after two edits ended up with 28,000 and I liked it. I queried it to sixty-six agents in one day. That same day I got one full manuscript request from one agent.

Back on the roof baby! However by the next day I was back in the valley of despair. My lack of patience after three and one half years of trying convinced me over and over that if what I wrote was any good, an offer of representation should come in almost immediately, even though that seldom happens.

Three months is the appropriate amount of time to wait before contacting an agent who requested to see more of the work. My situation is strange. As the agent who requested the full manuscript did so on September 24, 2013. Three months later is Christmas Eve. It's Paris all over again. I'll be hoping for a Christmas miracle while making sure to keep some well spiked egg nog in the fridge. Who knows? Maybe I'll get that miracle and finally be a published author.

Until then I'll keep thinking about the half finished middle grade steam punk novel I was working on earlier in the year, and editing the YA romance thriller I originally entered in the 2011 ABNA contest, or that other YA novel that is just an idea in my head right now, or the screen play that is semi-autobiographical, or the tiny picture book manuscripts I would love to read.

Either way, I really want to be a writer.