Sunday, February 14, 2010

Submissions, rejections and sleepless nights--oh my!

Sleepless nights.  We’ve all had them.  We toss and turn and watch the minutes click by on the clock.  It can be one of the most frustrating experiences.  We have to sleep to function the next day and each minute, each hours makes it harder to fall asleep.  We get tense, our minds race, we get agitated and then forget it…all chance of sleep is gone.

I can’t sleep right now. (Obvious, huh?) My darling hubby is out cold, bless his heart, but not me. So instead of watching the late-night Olympics,  here I sit, in my comfy chair at the computer writing this entry about not sleeping.  Ironic.  What I will do is open a manuscript I’ve been working on.  This book has giving me trouble for a while.  I like the characters, but they haven't been talking to me. I'm hearing some whispers, but I need these guys to start screaming so I can finish telling their story.  I’m 50,000 words into it and now I just don’t know where to take them.  When I joke about the voices in my head, I’m really not joking. Try not to let that scare you.  In order to write, to be that character, I need to hear them.  I take what I hear and put it on the page.  I don’t have novels come to me in a dream like a certain sparkling Vampire writer, but I do see images; I hear how my characters sound, I imagine what they smell, taste and feel, and it becomes a story. 

I've been doing this for a long time.  I always wrote.  My dad will mention from time to time how when I was a toddler I would take books off the shelf in the living room and write my name on the title page.  There is a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations out there someplace with “Jbon” scrawled in it.  I think that’s telling.  I always knew, even at two years old, that I would be an author. Why should I wait to get my name in a book?  But now I am waiting… and waiting…and waiting.

So here I am, it's the middle of the night and I’m waiting for these characters to start talking, but I’m also waiting for rejections.  There it is: the revelation.  Honestly, it's waiting for the rejections that's keeping me up at night.  I’ve got a bunch of query letters—some with pages, some without—floating around with agents and I’m waiting for them to get back to me and tell me that they just aren’t right for my project. I have gotten one request for a partial, but other than that, I’ve gotten a lot of things that say, “Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m afraid I have to pass.”  Depressing, discouraging and yet I keep trying.  I’m proud of the book I’m shopping around right now.  It’s good work, but I have to find the person who agrees with me.  That’s the hard part and that’s what has my brain on overdrive.

I could quit.  I could pack it in and find something else to do with my time.  But every time I think about doing that, there’s a whisper, a voice pushing me to tell the story.  And I give in.  I crumble and sit at the keyboard and I write.  I follow this damned dream.  It may be futile, I may never get published, but I have to believe in myself before I can get anyone else to believe in me.  

I know I'm not dealing with anything major here. This isn't life or death, or world peace, but it's important to me. I have a lot of myself invested in this.  Now, if I can get my characters to start talking up a storm that would be perfect.  I could forget about the submissions and the rejections and worry about the story.  The story is at the heart of all of this and believe me, that’s always much more fun.

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