Friday, February 26, 2010

The Hopeful Anguish of the Writer's Life

On Valentines Day I had lunch with some writing friends from my local RWA chapter before we spoke at the Duxbury Free Library. Whenever writers get together, we talk about the writer's craft and the topic always seems to lead to "what's next?"

Writers live in a perpetual state of hopeful anguish. We scribble away furiously before "the call," uncertain whether we've got the juice to be published. But the dream of seeing our name on the cover is so potent, we can't help but have stories dripping from our fingers.

Then once the magic happens and we take those first steps into the world of the "Published Author," we live in fear of being a one-book wonder until we snag our second contract. Even multiple books doesn't lessen this fear. STROKE OF GENIUS will be my 8th title, but the nagging "Will there be a 9th?" is always there.

I tend to write more slowly as I near "the end" on my manuscripts. Probably because once I finish, I have to face the next round of pulling together a proposal for another book. In some ways, published authors have an easier time of things since we don't have to write the entire manuscript before we submit it. A proposal is typically 3 chapters and a synopsis, though it can be less. I sold STROKE OF GENIUS on the strength of the title and a paragraph, but that's not the norm.

Contrary to what you might think, a book proposal is not a slam-dunk, even for NYTimes Bestsellers. I was visiting my friend Elizabeth Boyle's website the other day (love, Love, LOVE her work!) and on her blog she shared that she was in writer's limbo--that space of time between submitting a proposal and getting it accepted by the powers on high. If a writer of Elizabeth's calibre has to wait on pins for approval, there's no surprise that the rest of us do too.

Back to lunch with my writing buddies . . . I've always played things pretty close to my vest. If I talk about what's in the works too much, I'm afraid I'll jinx it. That's why I was surprised when Marie Force was telling us about a proposal she had pending with Carina (Harlequin's new ebook imprint). I'm waiting for an answer on a proposal myself, but I just couldn't open my mouth to share it. Then a couple days later, Marie emails to tell us that her proposal was accepted in a multi-book deal.

So I got to thinking... maybe it's good to toss my hopes on the wind. Can speaking it make it so?

It's worth a shot.

What are you working on, hoping for, or waiting to hear back on?

PS. Today I'm also at The Chatelaines, so hope you'll join me there as well! Have a great weekend!


Jane L said...

Emily, I am just hoping you and your family have power and good weather, the weather channel makes it look so horrible out there! Stay safe and warm!

I am working on re writing a story I finished once, but now have learned so very much more and I am determined to finish this!

Gillian Layne said...

"Can speaking it make it so?"

I tend to NEVER speak "it", whatever it may be, but on the theory it really doesn't hurt anything...

I have a query out. I have GH entries out. I did throw my two cents in to the Avon "It Happened One Season" contest, but they went with four other (really good) ideas.

If I haven't said so before, I just love your posts. You have a great site here.

Sarah Tormey said...

I'm back to polishing and revising and then I plan to resubmit. While it is nice to know that agents and editors are interested in my work, it is also a bit daunting!

Good luck with your upcoming projects!

EmilyBryan said...

Jane--Every writer I know is still learning.

So far, all we have is rain and lashing winds. Evidently it's too warm for snow or we'd have a real mess on our hands.

EmilyBryan said...

Gillian--Good luck on your query and GH. I'm hopeful my novella in A CHRISTMAS BALL will do well in the Ritas. This is one case where just being nominated really is an honor.

Thanks for your kind words about the blog. Sometimes, I feel like I'm talking to the air. Glad to know there's someone listening.

EmilyBryan said...

Sarah--If you've been asked to revise by an editor or agent, this is a GOOD thing!!! You are so very close.

Good luck!!!

Sandy said...

I'm working on a short story in my mind. It's starting to jell, but I need to get busy and do character profiles.

EmilyBryan said...

Sandy, I've tried to explain to my family that not all writing takes place at the keyboard. If I have a zombie-like expression on my face, if I nod and mumble without making eye contact, they have to assume I'm in another century and can't be reached except in case of emergency.

Janet Kay Gallagher said...

Hi Emily
I have a solve-it Mystery.Finished writing and just printed the three pages awhile ago. I would like to submit it to Woman's World Magazine.

Glynis Peters said...

Always listening Emily!
Sometimes I will say out loud the premise of my book, then other times I zip tight. Depends on who I am talking to.
Positive thinking or positive talking? Mmmm, not sure.

I am still working on Ripper My Love, and enjoying the 'growing' process of my writing.
Lol I turned the anguish of a hopeful writer, to that of an agent in a silly letter I compiled on my blog.

EmilyBryan said...

Good luck with your submission, Janet. I'm always in awe of people who can write a whole story in three pages. A ten page synopsis gives me fits.

EmilyBryan said...

Glynnis-Love your silly agent letter and your blog! Glynis's Blog Your positive thought: "I may be short, but I'm taller than my dog" made me laugh!

But actually, the agents I know aren't waiting in hopeful anguish. They are very proactive about representing their clients and finding new talent. They attend writing conferences and sit through days of pitches (any author who's ever pitched needs to spend a couple minutes imagining what it's like on the other side of the table). They read tons of queries. They judge contests. They aren't successful till they help lots of other people be successful.

I wouldn't trade places with an agent on a bet!

Glynis Peters said...

Bless you thanks Emily.
No I would not trade places with an agent, it cannot be easy. I did have fun with my tongue in cheek, letter though. LOL

EmilyBryan said...

I think saying "no" has to be one of the toughest parts of being an agent or editor. But that may be because I'm a pathological pleaser and "no" tends to stick in my throat.