Since I began querying agents about my first novel, I’ve caught some mistakes in the query letter as well as the sample chapters. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I had made them until after I submitted to the first agent. Careful not to repeat these errors, I took a considerable amount of time to fix my letter and my manuscript, even after having spent so much time on them already.
I put forth great effort in every detail of my writing even before I queried the first literary agent. I reread, rewrote, edited, over and over again, printed out a piece to work with a hard copy, read it aloud, revised, reread, rewrote, proofread, lathered, rinsed, and repeated…you get the idea.
The degree of frustration and exhaustion I experience with writing sometimes discourages me. I’ve already received eighty rejections for my work submitted over the past three years. The few times I’ve had my work published in small literary magazines have been rewarding, but the degree of hard work to any kind of recognition I receive is disproportionate. Such is the life of writing and the life of any artist for that matter. I’m still waiting for the day someone pays me for something I wrote. I don’t have to be the next J.K. Rowling, but I would like to earn a living pursuing my passion. Most professional writers receive a modest income for their work.
My progress doesn’t always move at a steady pace forward. I find that even though I read and write every day, I still struggle to improve. I find some of my previous work cringeworthy to read.
In the past few years, I’ve read a hundred books. Fifteen of them have been about the craft. I read literary fiction, commercial fiction, and nonfiction, including creative nonfiction. Writing (and reading) requires a lot of self-discipline. Because of some personal struggles I deal with on a daily basis, my concentration and memory necessary to advance in this craft are, to an extent, also compromised. Never mind others wondering what you’re doing just sitting at the computer. It’s not easy peasy cheddar cheesy (I made that one up and I’m hoping it catches on) to be a good writer.
I received a couple of personalized rejections after querying agents again. One said that my work showed potential but it wasn’t a good fit for the types of authors she represented. Another said that this was a strong project but it wasn’t quite right for the editorial contacts she had. These rejections were promising. I must remind myself that this is common for all writers and I just need to keep at it.