Turns out, writing the story was the easy part. Everything else? That’s hard. Between query letters and synopsis’s and having no idea what I’m doing in either, and revising and editing, sometimes I have no idea which way is up. There are so many technical aspects that need doing. And really, this entire endeavor is overwhelming.
There are times where I just sit and stare at my computer screen, knowing what needs to happen and very close to paralyzed with fear that I will not be able to accomplish these tasks. And, if I could ever accomplish them, accomplish them well, with some level of dignity that means they were worth doing.
These technical aspects could be seen as the business side of things. The creative part, the part that I know, has already been accomplished. I know how to write a story, how to trust my instincts to know when the story is complete (though I still debate that with myself sometimes). The business of getting published scares me.
Part of the fault lies in never having done any of this before. I have no framework for what I’m doing. No past path. Each time I think I’m ready, I do the research, only to discover I’ve been missing a key ingredient. So, what needs to happen? Essentially, here’s what I know. And if I’m missing anything, I’m more than willing to learn.
- Writing: This part may be the simplest. Certainly, I think it is. I know, there’s a whole process of generating the idea and writing a draft. Then I have to let the idea simmer in my head for a while to let all the ideas percolate (yeah, that’s a lot like making coffee. Filtering out the bad parts and refining the good ideas. Then we have editing. Who knows how long that will take? All the fine tuning, trying to decide if a character sounds perfect. At some point I just need to give up.
- Editing: I guess I’ve already covered that. Editing happens to exist as a very tedious process. One that I thoroughly enjoy. That’s where the fine details come through. After all, before I sat down to write, I know the general plot, and how things turn out. The details are really what I’m hunting for.
- Business: In no particular order:
- Small (but important) things: Isolating word count, genre type, blog, website, self-promotion, networking.
- Agents: This part is relatively straight forward. Go looking. There are lists all around. Some are found in books (writer’s digest has one) and websites.
- Query: This is essentially the cover letter. Currently what I’m working on, I’ve written at least three distinct versions (if anyone shows interest, I’ll post it here). There’s been feedback and discussions (more on that later). And I think I’m almost ready to accept that at least two versions are needed. See, each agent has a style. Researching them allows me to know what they’re more likely to accept. It’s a more personal thing than just applying with a cover letter to a large company, in many ways.
- Synopsis: Getting a 120,000 word story down to it’s core. No more than 6 pages (though that does seem long). I’d hope to do so in maybe three, at most. So, think 750 words. That means, as I understand it, the main characters, the plot with some twists, including the outcome of the book. Talk about a tall order in small sizes. Efficiency.
- As one of my favorite fictional characters, Josh Lyman would say: “Efficiency and professionalism.”
- Networking: Meeting people online (that’s places like LibraryThing and, even this blog) and establishing a presence.
The thing about the business side is the research. There’s something terrifying about seeing so many internet windows open and known I really should take a look at each one. There something slightly addictive about websites and blogging. Once, my freshman (totally not-PC but who cares) year of college, I got lost in a Stargate forum, posting something like 10,000 posts in six months. I think I had some absurd goal of posting 300 posts a day. Not a place I’d really like to return.
Luckily, I do have friends to help me out, people I know. When working on my query letter, a friend who is in charge of marketing at her company is helping me out. Another long time friend is helping me program the website.
The acknowledgement that I’ll face rejection and, very likely, not be told why scares me. Because, if I don’t know why, I can’t improve. Then against, at a certain level, it’s about taste and politics. I’ll tell you a secret: I hate politics. I hate stumping for myself or promoting myself. That’s slightly unrealistic until you have the fanbase, but that’s how the feeling goes. I don’t want the attention. I just want to write, sit in my corner of the world, and tell stories. But I can’t get there until I can make a living off that. How’s that?
The biggest fear I have is that all of this isn’t worth the time. That I’ll never be published and there goes 15 years of my life for something I’m not really good at. Think of it like those auditions for American Idol or X Factor. Most of them are horrible but are convinced they can make it because they’ve got real talent. Maybe I’m deluding myself. I certainly hope not.
I can’t get people to stop recommending things, watching baseball certainly takes up a huge part of my life (luckily, that’ll be over in less then a month) and my brother insists of discussing his work and video games. Distractions persist. Sometimes, I count reading among them. But, if I isolate myself and only concentrate on work, I’ll go stir crazy. Sacrifices, I suppose.
If this all feels a bit negative, I’m sorry. I’m just trying to remain realistic about the situation. All I do know is that I can keep taking steps forward. I’m not saying I’m not making progress. But, like with anything, some days are definitely harder than others. So, I keep going, keep setting deadlines, keep blowing deadlines, but hopefully, getting closer to the level I need to achieve. This isn’t an MMORPG, where certain levels get results. This is life. And it’s not always easy.