Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Doubting Thomas Inside

We, the writers of this world, teller of stories, all have him there, inside us—the little bugger—hiding, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to burst out and say: “What if your agent doesn’t like the new proposal? What if she sends it back? Says it sucks, send something else. (She’s never said that, by the way, but Thomas thinks it’s fun to taunt me.) Have you got something else? Because you’re still new to the game, you know, and it’s a good bet the NY editors are going to want a whole ms, not just the 3 chapter/synopsis thing. Worse, what if she regrets taking you on as a client? Eek!

Oh yeah, Thomas pops out regularly. Like every time I send my agent something new. I’m not just a newbie to the publishing game, I’m still new to the agent thing as well. The first one I had sent out my stuff, but never followed up. Wasn’t prepared to handle more than one ms at a time. We never really talked about what I wanted career-wise. Nothing happened. Time wasted.

My new agent—I LOVE HER—let me just get that out—is patient with me during revisions, edits for content, stays upbeat all the time. We’ve discussed the kind of books I want to write, the genre. Where I see myself in the future. She encourages me to try new things. She’s a gem.

I haven’t sold anything yet, since I’ve been with her. We’ve had stuff out there, received revisions requests that ultimately didn’t work out in the end, good feedback that can be applied. Which is progress compared to no thanks. But, still, I’m scared to death she’s going to break up with me. I feel like I’m letting her down. Like maybe she’s starting to feel like I’m wasting her time.

And I wonder, will I always feel this way? Will I always initially think my writing is crap? Will I always doubt myself? The answer: I don’t know. I’m making progress, working my way up the ladder, but God is it a long ladder.

Here’s a shocker: I’ve heard writers far, far better than me, best-selling authors, say the same things. Ask the same questions. Have the same doubts. They fight through writer’s block and dry selling spells and losing editors and closing lines. And I can relate. I no longer feel like that lonely rat Jenny Crusie talks about, swimming in search of the island. I’m in good company. I’m in excellent company, and proud of it.

The good news is: Like those who’ve attained success, I’m determined. I’m not where I want to be yet, by any means, but I don’t intend on giving up until I get there. So Thomas can just take a hike. Because my desire to succeed is stronger than the doubts he can plant in my head.

TLGray Finalist Anne-Bonney Readers Choice AwardThe World According To Ali--Cerridwen Press, In Stores Now! Winner 2006 LORIES-Single TitleObject Of His Affection--Cerridwen Press Feb 2006


Colleen Thompson said...

Even after selling a dozen books, I'm still having a day-to-day relationship with Mr. Thomas. I'd like to show him the door, but every so often, one of those doubts he whispers like sweet nothings ends up leading me to make a useful edit or run the story by one more advance reaer who offers some critical suggestion.

Congrats on finding a supportive new agent. That's half the battle!

Nancy Morse said...

Just when I thought I had an exclusive relationship with Mr. Thomas, now I find out he's cheating on me with God-knows how many others. Knowing him as well as I do, my only advice is to ignore him. He just wants to make you as insecure as he is. If I catch him, I'm going to nail his cheating butt to the nearest tree.

Cheryl Bolen said...

Getting dumped -- either by an agent or by your publishing house -- is part of this business; so, TL, I think your fears are justified. Unfortunately, most of us pubs have been there. All the best to you on outstanding proposals.

Carolyne said...

Even in spite of being published, each time I start a new book the doubts circle and smack me upside the head The upside of doubts is that they keep a person moving. so I'm trying, very hard. to see them as a positive. When I'm doubting what I'm doing, I remind myself that I am . . . doing.

Carolyne Aarsen