Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hot and Cold: The Tension of Opposition

As I type this, Night and Day is playing in my head, and I start thinking about dualities, but this isn’t a post about dualities (that was a couple of weeks ago). It’s a post about the way my writer’s life seems to swing between extremes: desperate hope and abject fear.  Okay, that was a bit of hyperbole.  The fear and despair isn’t really absolute, but it can be paralyzing at times.  During those times, it’s hard to send work out.

For a long time, I thought the solution to swinging between these extremes was getting a “big book” published or getting an agent.  My friends with agents and big books assure me that this isn’t the answer, that the fear and despair still live at the far swing of the pendulum. 

Yesterday, I mused aloud with my writing friends as I was sending out a new batch of queries that maybe I’d chosen the wrong career.  My friends reminded me that I didn’t choose this, it chose me.  

While that’s not entirely true--I could just write and write and store my work in an empty trunk (okay, at this point it would probably be two trunks) and not worry about publishing--it is somewhat true.  I’ve always written.  It’s been a constant companion.  I told my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Hackett, that I was going to be a writer.  And I am.

But, the thing is, I would write whether I was ever published or not. I have a job that pays the bills, but I think the world needs my work.  I think that there are children whose lives might be a little brighter if they could spend time with my characters.  I think there are poets who might find some truth in my words.  I think there are parents and teachers who might see the world and their charges a little differently through my picture books. I tell stories that I would like people to hear.

So, I write, and I’d like my writing shared with a broader audience, so I vacillate between extremes.  I’ve learned that when I’m feeling hopeful, I should send my work out to as many agents and publishers as will read them. 

Yesterday, I felt hopeful.  Did you know Kate DiCamillo was rejected by 45 agents before she finally got representation?  So I sent two picture books and my completed verse memoir out to a total of eight agents. 

Today, I got the nicest rejection from an agent I'd sent my work to earlier this year. The agent said that though the project wasn’t right for him, I should continue querying agents.  That encouragement was enough to keep my on the hopeful side of the pendulum for a little while longer. 

So, I’m headed back to my spreadsheet to send the book out to four more people.  Wish me luck, and good luck to you.  I’ll keep hoping.  I’ll keep working.  I hope you’ll do the same.

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