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The good news: I am one committed writer

The (sort of) bad news? I can only commit to one project at a time.

For the past month or so, I've been readying my submission package for my next publishing prospect, and I've been a little obsessed with doing it perfectly. My poor little blog has suffered because of this, but it was for a very important cause. That counts for something, right? I've talked about Way Down Low here before, but I'm all fired up about it now that it's out there in the world. Sending out a query felt a bit like sending my baby off to kindergarten for the first time. (Let's not mention the fact that I will have a legitimate kindergartener come August. I am not ready for that discussion.) This is the most agonizing part of seeking representation for your work, and the higher the stakes, the more laser-focused I become. Lately, for obvious reasons, my brain is operating on very little bandwidth; if I'm choosing between writing blog posts and putting together a package for an agent I really like in order to convince them to give me the time of day, the novel is usually going to win out.

And, okay so, this novel.

I've blogged about Way Down Low before and even shared an excerpt from the first draft. It's undergone a considerable amount of revising since then, but the spirit is the same. I've loved this story since I first conceived it seven years ago (one could argue I came up with it much earlier, since a couple of its storylines are derived from short stories I wrote in college). I banged it out with such frenzied passion, the resulting first draft was full of plot holes and conflicting details. That's par for the course, and I don't mind mistakes like that so much when it means I've got a completed work in my hands. It's much easier to fix a page full of mistakes than a page full of blank space.

Readying this submission package meant I had to write another letter, another pitch, and another synopsis. I've discussed my relationship with writing synopses before. That's all I will say about that.

This synopsis was more a complicated task than usual, considering Way Down Low is actually four interdependent narratives telling one story. This means I have eight freaking protagonists, four major and four semi-minor. I've never written a letter or synopsis that tackled this style of storytelling, so I had to study. If you're in the same boat or want to bank some useful information for future reference, the two most helpful articles I found are here and here.

Once I figured out how to do it, I felt a little less anxious. For someone as long-winded and flowery as I am, creating a submission package -- writing the pitch and synopsis, specifically -- is always a much-needed and welcomed refresher in concision. It's practice for hooking someone, and it usually takes several trial runs. I don't know how my current conquest will pan out, but I do know I'm a much stronger query-er than I was three years ago. The best way to get better in this business, unfortunately, is to fail. It's gut-wrenching to fail as a writer. You're putting yourself out there, making yourself vulnerable, and allowing your creativity to be picked apart and criticized. At the end of the day, your art is not business -- it's you. And when it's given the ol' Randy-Jackson-from-American-Idol, you feel like it's your soul that's being rejected.

At the end of the day, though, you tell yourself this business is subjective, you continue to better your craft, and you keep the faith that there's an agent out there who wants to represent you just as much as you want them to. Fortunately, that last one is highly likely. I've said all of that to say this: I'm back to blogging. At least a bit more reliably. I'm going to be doing a lot of waiting over the next few months, so this lovely little blog will get the attention it deserves. Novel excerpts are forthcoming, including one from that Ireland story that I promised 8 months ago (whoops). Let's get this thing back on track. I'm committed. Again.


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