Well hellooo world! This is said with my best Texas cheerleader accent. I all of a sudden feel very exposed. I don't know why this is so hard...after all most likely no one will even read this but I can't help but feel that all of a sudden the towel covering my private life is suddenly way too skimpy.
I wrote a book. Well, a manuscript. I hope it becomes a book.
I've been one of those people who have glided through life. I have a wonderful family, great friends, and an overall nice existance. But one of the things my church emphasizes is that when God gives a talent, we need to use it. It scares me to write that I think writing is a talent of mine, but it is. I tend to excel when I can put pen to paper, well fingers to keyboard. I think the aspect of having a delete button is mighty helpful. When my mouth opens, words tend to fall out at a rapid speed.
Anyway, I had a girl come to mind a couple years back. She was nameless and faceless in the beginning. As I got to know her better I realized she had some qualities like me, some like my sisters, and some like my girlfriends. Her face became clear and her name is Mia. She began to tell me her story and I wrote it down.
I know I sound like a crazy person and to a certain extent, I probably am. This girl and her friends spoke to me for years. Actually they are still speaking to me, but that's for another blog post.
After Mia finished telling me her story, I edited my manuscript like crazy. With the help of Jaclyn and my mom, I cleaned my writing up until I felt that it was ready for other people to read. Professional people. People that could help me to maybe make something of my manuscript. I sent out my very first query.
A query is a letter written to a literary agent telling them a little (when I say little here, I mean a little. My book is over 100,000 words and they want one to describe my work in about 250 words. No easy task.) about my book and about me. Basically selling myself. Scary.
So I sent my first query to an agent. I read that she gave great feedback, so I thought she would be a good person to start with. I waited in mighty anticipation as I opened my email every twenty minutes for the next five days. Finally a response came. I had visions of grandeur. I didn't think that my first letter would get me representation but I had to admit, I did hope. And even if they didn't offer to be my agent I figured they would at least tell me what was wonderful about my letter and about me and that I was destined to find someone even better than they were to represent me (the last part was an exaggeration but you get my drift). Anyway, it was that day that I was introduced to the dreaded form regection. Not only did they not give me any feedback, they didn't even address the rejection to me. Just to author. Slightly crushed, I realized there was a lot more I needed to learn about this process. So learn I did. I began to search websites, read blogs, and even joined twitter. I decided I couldn't query one agent at a time. That would lead me to an early grave.
The next day I sent out a batch of queries (I am not going to list numbers because honestly I don't want anyone other than myself keeping track of the number of rejections I receive). Two days later I opened my email and saw a response from an agent. I felt a pit in my stomach as I opened the email. When I began to read, instead of being adressed to author, it was addressed to Julia. My fingers began to shake when I realized this was not a rejection, it was a request. They liked me. They wanted to read my work. I couldn't believe it. I quickly reread the email to make sure that I got the message correct the first time. My hands were literally trembling as I sent the first three chapters of my book to them. I called Lyle, my mom, and every one of my sisters. I jumped around the house and scared my son. It was one of the greatest feelings.
Over the next couple of days I continued to receive rejections but none of them stung quite as badly because someone liked me. A week later, I received another email from aforementioned agency. I had just gotten a rejection from an agent that I really liked so I was afraid to open the email. But of course the email got opened and I was thrilled to read that this agent liked my first three chapters and she wanted the rest of the manuscript.
This was it. I was going to be a rich and famous published writer. I couldn't believe my luck. I was still exploring the internet and reading stories of poor chaps who were being rejected time after time. They had sent out so many queries, and they still didn't have an agent.
Well you know how they say don't count your chickens...Let's just say I counted too early.
I got a stinging rejection and she didn't even give me any feedback on what I could do better. To say I was sad was an understatement. I lost faith in my writing, in my manuscript and, I'm ashamed to say this, in me. Luckily I have two wonderful boys around me all the time that wouldn't let me wallow too much and I got back in the saddle.
I actually wasn't planning on getting into this process so much but I wanted you all to get a picture of why telling this to people is hard.
So you may be wondering then why Julia are you writing this for anyone in the world to see?
Mostly because I am sick of hiding this. It is not something I am ashamed of. It's actually quite the opposite. I'm impressed with myself. I mean a wrote a freakin book.
And also because I need to get over my fear of failing. Like my character Mia, I used to think that if I didn't try, I couldn't fail. But something I have learned in this process is that if I don't try, I've already failed.
So I've been writing queries and receiving rejections for a month now. In the big picture of life, a short time. In my little view at this moment, eternity. Remember that cute boy in math class that flirts like crazy and you expect him to ask you out at any moment? Now imagine it's one month later and said boy still hasn't asked you out. The anticipation is driving me nuts.