If I had a crystal ball to look back at all the times in my life I had to wait for things, I would probably be astonished at how many hours I have spent in a holding pattern. In those moments of uncertainty, time takes on a mystical quality and one day feels like a week, a week feels like a year and anything longer than that feels like an eternity.
Trying to connect with, and build a relationship with, a literary agent has taken waiting to a whole new level. I have crafted something I am extremely proud of and want so much to find someone as passionate about sharing my story as I am. But that takes time – a lot of time. Agents are very busy people and I understand that. My manuscript is one in a pile of hundreds that they have to sort through to find a collection of phrases and characters that speak to them and that they think they can sell to a publishing company. I get it. But that doesn’t make the waiting any easier.
I recently submitted my full manuscript to a literary agent in New York. Her email, although encouraging, did say it would be a few weeks before I heard back from her. That email was sent 9 days ago but, in my estimation, it feels like 9 months have gone by since we had any communication. In that 9 days, my emotion has gone from elation to worry, from feeling confident to being self-deprecating. It has been a roller coaster of emotion but it is a train I have been hanging on to because that ride up and down those tracks and through those loops is part of the thrill of the journey to being published. I can only hope that the ride ends well and I don’t veer off the tracks into a wall.
Knowledge is power, this is a universal truth, and over the last few days this truth has made itself extremely evident.
I have been immersing myself into a world that is new to me and there is a huge learning curve as well as many veins of information that branch out from that curve. To gain as much knowledge as I can, I have been spending a great deal of time travelling down those arteries of wisdom and storing as many nuggets of information as I can into the recesses of my brain.
Every author I have spoken to about getting published has said the same thing – it’s really all about luck and timing. I have no reason not to believe them because they’ve been there. They have pounded the same pavement on which I now find myself so they know this route much better than I could ever claim to know. I have been spending a great deal of time learning about different literary agents, what they like and what they don’t like, and only adding those agents who may be a good fit for my book. I have been spending much more time on Twitter as that seems to be a more popular social media site for those in the writing world and last week I was introduced to the hashtag #PitMad.
PitMad is a pitch party where authors have 280 characters to describe their unpublished manuscript. If an agent likes your tweet, you have the green light to send them a query based on their submission guidelines. I tweeted my first pitch and sat back, hoping for the best. But then I wanted to know all I could know about PitMad. It turns out, you can send a maximum of three pitches for the same book, so I carefully constructed a second tweet and sent it out into cyberspace. When I checked back a while later, my second tweet had a beloved heart below it. An agent liked my tweet! I had the go-ahead to send a query and I did that as quickly as I could so my story was still fresh in her mind.
Luck and timing magically combined and, when I got home from work that day, there was an email from the same agent requesting to read my full manuscript. I’m not under any illusion that her interest in my book is going to mean that she is going to take me on as a client. I am quite grounded in reality. I am, however, under the illusion that her requesting my full manuscript means that my writing has enough merit to make her want to see where I take the story and THAT is a huge step for a new author.
I follow “LitRejections” on Twitter and they post very encouraging tweets to help authors keep writing and survive rejection. This tweet is the one that got under my skin and keeps me going ~ “Rejection of your writing will not break your spirits. You are going to do this. You will not quit. You WILL be successful.
March 8th had never previously had a profound effect on my life. It had always been a day like any other. But four years ago, that day marked the separation between the calendar date that my mother and my father passed away. Although the losses were separated by almost 8 years, the fact did not go unrecognized that the dates of their individual passing almost overlapped. March 7th was the fourth anniversary of my mom’s passing and March 9th will be the twelfth anniversary of losing my dad.
Time is a funny thing. Had those moments not occurred within less than 48 hours of each other, eight years later, that single day on the calendar would go by inconspicuously. It would still be a day like any other.
But today has become a bridge – a connection that holds the memories of both my mom and my dad in a splendid moment of happiness between the two saddest days of our lives.
Today is the day when their laughter is heard and the thoughts of their smiles are etched in our memories. Those moments shine above the heartbreak of their losses. Today is the day that will hold us in its embrace, allowing us to live in the contentment of how wonderful life was when they were both still with us. And today is the day that we can stand on top of that bridge and not feel the pain of loss on either side.
Today marks four years since the day my mother passed away. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her or laugh at some funny memory that bubbles to the surface. But with each smile, I still feel that pain of loss. It will never go away but it does get easier with time. This is the poem I wrote after she passed and it touches my heart as much now as it did when that pain was so fresh. I miss you, Mom. xx
You left us in the early hours,
so peacefully your spirit would roam.
Through a gentle wind and the rising sun,
the angels called you home.
A ladder was built for your journey to light,
each rung meant to make you content.
While bathed in the glowing light of rebirth,
you gracefully began your ascent.
Loving arms awaited you there,
curling you into their embrace.
Heaven welcomed an angel back home,
rejoicing her love and her grace.
You leave behind your spirit and joy,
in those who loved you each day.
While our days will be saddened by the emptiness we feel,
we know we will see you someday.
Jane Eleanore Nairn – May 21, 1940 – March 7, 2014
I have learned a great deal about the writing world as I have begun to emerge myself in my quest to find a literary agent. Each agent has unique specifications for sending a query and a fledgling author is bound to follow those guidelines or run the risk of having their submission thrown into the slush pile.
Many agents follow a similar model for submissions so it becomes a less daunting task as time goes on, but then you get the agent who asks you to sum up your manuscript in one sentence. For me, that is a very arduous task. There are so many twists and turns to my story that it is extremely difficult to craft one sentence that can convey every nuance of the story.
Imagine that you are in a job interview and you are asked to describe yourself in one sentence. Can you do it? Or are there so many different facets to you that coming up with one line to describe all of those things is impossible?
While I gave my all to put together a sentence that did its best to describe my novel, I know I did not do my story justice. My book requires much more than just one sentence to fully illustrate its depth. After I wrote that sentence, I felt like a test car that had crashed into the wall before reaching its maximum speed.
I have been more careful in selecting agents who are willing to allow me to give much more insight into my novel than just one sentence. Even sending the first three chapters does not truly allow the people who hold my future in their hands enough material to see what the story truly has in store for them. I can only hope that they see enough bait to make them swim closer to the hook and take a full bite. I can promise, they will be reeled in if they take the chance!
Shame them for doubting me and trying to deny me of my sleep.
As soon as I saw the stack of mattresses, I knew. ‘Twas not the first I’d heard of this nonsense.
You see, my dear Prince, I am but a humble slave, soon to be your wife.