On Cutting My Losses
You may not know this, but my last project began as a simple Paranormal Fantasy. After the first unsuccessful round of agent queries, I learned the art of letting go; I can’t speak for other writers, but that metaphor you hear re: finished projects being an artist’s “children”? Completely true in my case, at least back then. Umpteenth rejections later, I was forced to consider the warts on my “child” and all its imperfections, and threw myself into an edit/revision bubble, during which this project morphed into a YA Paranormal Fantasy, this time with the assistance of a writers group.
It stopped being a child at that point – I was a plastic surgeon, aiming for perfection.
Another round of submissions.
A brief flirtation with the concept of self-publishing, so brief I didn't even look into it.
Then two revise and resubmit offers, after which this project was turned down again.
Another round of edits.
Sometime in this endless death cycle I started developing an odd sense of detachment towards this project. It was good – enough people who had no relation to me whatsoever had told me so, and I trusted them enough to believe—but it needed someone who loved it as much as I did to tell me what it needed, that extra, final push, to finally get sold. I knew when people gave me advice on what to fix, what felt right, and what I’d brush off with a smile and a nod because it wouldn’t work. I understand this is a gift from the Writing Gods, and trust me, I’m most grateful for it. But would I find someone? There were moments when I was consumed by the futility of it. I’d tried to shelve the project before, but it always came roaring back, via a new connection, or a contest, or somesuch.
All the while my current WIP sat, waiting, not happy with the occasional 15-page chapter I’d write for it, but secure in its knowledge that I’d return.
At the beginning of this year I started submitting my previous project again, halfheartedly; it stemmed more with my general disillusionment of my life in general (I’m a person who needs to be doing something to improve my lot in life, and I get quite grumpy if I’m unable to do so. Submitting seemed at the time to have the potential for faster results than finishing my WIP.). And in February, lo and behold, a Full request! Huzzah!
One by one the other agents I’d submitted to sent their regrets, until that one agent that requested the full was the only one in my Query Tracker that didn’t have a frowny face. My One. Shining. Hope. And then, tragedy: abandoned by the head of her agency, neither she nor her clients had a home.
While I have no doubt they’ll soon find one (Publishing, I swear, is as insular and adulterous as the Food industry I used to work in), I see this as a sign. I cannot work on my WIP when I’m forever editing and submitting my previous project.
That agent is the last person who will see my last project.
This blog post, then, is a written reminder to myself that I’m filing my previous project away, to devote my time to my WIP. Maybe someday I’ll go back, but for now, the character voices of my WIP are becoming increasingly persistent.
It’s time I gave them a bloody chance.
RIP, Family Demons.