Sunday, February 10, 2008

Existential Angst

What goes up must come down, and my high plummeted, much like the temperature here in wacky weather Baltimore.

It was that second agent rejection that screwed my joy to the wall with eight-inch daggers. Once again, a very pleasant, personalized note with some nice compliments ('intriguing query', 'well-written'). Frankly, this love letter didn't faze me for a couple of days. But then I took that note and the rejection I received Christmas Eve and read them the way I scrutinize tea leaves or tarot cards or short, stubby life lines marching across a palm. Seeking answers. Looking for the 'why'. Because, you see, those agent rejections have code words and phrases, and they can be deciphered. And this is what the morse code tapped out: THIS STORY DOES NOT HAVE THAT NECESSARY ELUSIVE SPARK.

An editor, a rather well-known one who happens to teach the class I'm taking on putting a novel proposal together, confirmed my 'ah-ha'. As did two trusted beta readers, which pretty much paralyzed me. All week. I had me a hoe-down of a pity party. I wallowed in the miserable muck of existential depression, that deepest melancholy when the entire meaning of your existence hinges on your ability to create beauty and meaning.

At the end of three days, I decided to give up on BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT, convinced of the impossibility of plumbing further into my characters' - and my own - psyches. 'Time to move on, kiddo!' I told myself at three in morning. 'Think of it as your practice novel, the one that sits in a dusty trunk waiting for grandchildren to find.' And, worse, I wondered if I was a hack, a wannabe writer, someone forever ill-equipped to tackle important issues with a sacrament of words.

I still wonder...

But like most dark moods, this one passed. The quill called, a pensive siren, and I got bored with my negative, self-imposed drama and decided to not worry about whether this story, which I love SO much, will ever see the light of publication. I decided to let it rest. Marinate for a bit, stew in its juices of emotion and character and words. I know what needs to be done: my characters' voices need to sing off the page, brushing off all vestiges of my pixil strokes. THAT is what the agents and my readers are saying. Dig deep, even deeper than I can imagine, and with soul.

It's the how I am pondering...

So, for now, BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT slumbers. But Ben and Phoebe are persistent folks, so I expect our mutual holiday will be short-lived. And I continue to write - how can I not? This morning, in the dusk of dawn, I penned 670 new words on a blank page, starting story number 3 - LOVE STORY ON THE INNER LOOP: A Novel - inspired by a 'what if' that initially sprouted as a six-sentence ditty.

As Dory, the addled fish in Finding Nemo, sings: keep on writing, writing, writing.

Peace, Linda



  1. Linda

    I implore you to NOT shelf BTB after two rejections.
    Maybe 200 rejections but not two.

    Perhaps you haven't made the ideal match between story and agent/pulisher.
    Please continue to put BTB out there.

    I think the timing is ripe for this story.

    Hang in there - I know the non-acceptance can be crushing but you're tough and persistent.
    I believe in you and your story.

    Congrats on penning a new tale. It's great to delve into new digs -- isn't it?


  2. And here I came to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day, with lots of chocolate and lurve...sigh...

    So, Happy Chocolate, I mean, Love Day. And I still want to read it. I hope one day I get the chance...

    That said, I don't think you're wrong at all. Sometimes it's best to tuck things away, keep writing, keep going. And sometimes we come back to it. I respect you so much for listening to your intuition.

    But I don't think you're a hack, not at all. And I don't think the novel won't be published. I'm so glad to see, too, that you're working on #3. Go fall in love with it-for did you know, it's most writers THIRD novel that is picked up for publication first? Yep.

  3. Allow me to echo Kim's sentiments~don't bag it after two rejections. The 200 number isn't far off for when to consider it. Until then though...keep writing, keep thinking, keep pushing for publication. And if that doesn't work, pick up Hemmingways A Moveable Feast. It helps. Alot.

  4. My dear friends... ah, thank you so much for your concerns. I am touched. (wipes tear).

    Fear not - BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT is merely taking a short vacation from my itchy fingers. I'll be giving it a whirl on the market, but first: 1/ gotta finish the novel proposal class with Lauren Mosko so I get my stellar query, synopsis, and first 3 chapters; and 2/ need to think about what those agents were saying - how to make the MS SPARKLE.

    Two rejections (actually 6, but I don't count the 4 I got when I queried 1.5 years ago when this baby was still in diapers) don't dissuade me from pursuing publication. BUT the two agents did provide me a wonderful gift - they gave me very valuable feedback - and I need to heed their gentle advice.

    So upward and upward - on BTB, PURE, LOVE SONG, whatever whim I am working on.

    Thanks gals - I lurves you.

    And happy chocolate to all, except Sarah - you get red wine. A nice Rioja? Peace, Linda

  5. Good luck with the rewrite, Linda. i finally got here after that comment you'd left long back.

    Added to reader.

  6. Hey L,

    So glad your funk has passed. I agree with the others who say that 2 rejections is no reason to give up!

    I'm also glad to hear it's only a short vacation, and that you're working on new stuff. That sounds great!

    You will get there w/BTB, you will!

  7. I'm sorry. :( I hope you don't think I was saying give up. Not that I'd believe you, even if you said you were. Sometimes tucking things away and then coming back is all you need. It's supposed to be a joyful process. Seriously. If you're not happy, not enjoying the journey, tuck. Then come back. But not give up. No.

  8. No fears, Twiz and friends... I'll never give up. I'm a Taurus, after all, stubborn and persistent. Peace, Linda