Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Fricassee

In a most unusual alignment of events, three of my beloved crit partners are either *just recently* or *getting ready to go* on sub with projects.  Being on sub is like living a double life--the regular life, in which you strive to go on with your daily routine (while forcing yourself to focus on your newest project), and the mind-numbing, toenail-biting, editor-stalking, email-dependent life of a writer on submission.

So, yeah.  It's nice to be going through this en masse, as it were.  I mean, what are the odds?  So I'm thankful for the way things have turned out.  It's always easier to speak encouragement to someone else who's going through the same thing, so now I have three friends on whom to focus, instead of myself.

Truthfully, though, I'm not as emotionally invested this time.  (Been there, done that.  Two steps away from the funny farm did not a pleasant Authoress make.)  The longer the journey, and the more I've disciplined myself to Just Keep Writing, the more I'm able to compartmentalize the submission process. As in, it's over there in the corner, and I don't have to look at it if I don't want to.

If you're at the querying stage, you can make the same choice--set that querying process aside and focus on your next project.  It really makes a difference.

I'm not pretending I don't think about it--I do.  I research every editor whose name is new to me (which is most of them).  I pop random, I-have-a-question emails to Josh.  I check the spreadsheet to see if there's any new activity.  (Oh my STARS, a spreadsheet.  The anal retentive administrative assistant in me is deliriously happy!)

But overall?  Not a huge force in my life.  I love the story that's on sub (MG Fantasy--what's not to love?), and I believe that young readers will fall in love with my characters and their world, if only they are given the chance.  I'm sure that, when I talk about my story, my eyes do all sorts of sparkly things.  In the end, though, this is a project--a business proposition.  And the only way to get through the submission process is to keep this perspective.

Have you made the mental shift?  Do you view your stories as projects?  Potential products in a difficult marketplace?  Because that's what they are.

They're more, of course.  They're our brains and our hearts and our childhoods and our todays and our dreams and our imaginations.  But we've got to remove ourselves from all that once they're "out there". It's the only way to thrive during the process, instead of simply surviving.

So.  How do you view your novels? Project or Extension-of-your-body? And if you're clinging too tightly, are you ready to let go?

Share!  And have a lovely weekend.


  1. For me, novels are the ONLY things I think about as projects.

    That is to say, I have other creative outlets. These let me flex my imaginative muscles, taste the sweetness of a sincerely-evoked emotion, and hoard that away in a cubby for later motivation.

    Novels are a different beast -- they are the creatures I have raised from a pup to be presentable, to be allowed outside the house, to meet the neighbors. They were written for the general public, so they will forever be projects that I hope do well.

    That isn't to say that when I someday have one on submission, I won't be constantly checking out the front window to see how they're doing. >.>

  2. My novels are always a project. Granted, they're projects I'm deeply invested in, but eventually (usually sometime during the editing process) I divorce myself from it to the point where sometimes I end up hating it and being pathetically grateful I'm done.

    Submissions are...odd. When a project first goes out, I'm antsy and the first rejection or two will lay me low for a while. But if I'm on the fourth or fifth submission, the rejections don't have as much impact. Mostly because since they take so long to respond, I've moved on to something else I'm convinced is brighter, shinier, and far more awesome. I just submitted a project to two digital first publishers, so I'm in the antsy I-will-be-devastated-by-rejection stage.

  3. Been-there-done-that is a good place to be. I'm on the agent search portion of the journey, and writing the next big thing. I need to be fully invested in the new work so that whether the news is good or bad I won't be derailed from the primary goal.

  4. I think it depends on the day whether the WIP is a project or an extension of myself.

    But because I've gotten super involved in my writing a couple times that were rather unpleasant for the people I share my life with, I've given myself rules.

    When its my family's turn to have my attention, I have to just put all the creativity in a "box" and shove it under the bed until the next day/evening when I can start plotting and typing again.

  5. My novels do feel like extensions of my self when I'm writing them, but I've learned to compartmentalize that obsession while I'm on sub. Makes it easier to distance yourself from your work when you start reading too much into your rejections.

    It ALWAYS helps to hear that I'm not alone! ;)

  6. This is JUST EXACTLY what I needed today. I'm in the on-submission waiting game, and I'm trying not to get paralyzed. Thank you for this! I need to focus on my WIP, and you've given me perspective. Best of luck!

  7. I so agree with this! I'm on sub right now, too and the only way I've found to stay sane is to throw myself into the next project and try not to think about it. I also had to ask my friends to stop asking if I'd heard anything from my agent. I told them, "Believe me, when I hear, you'll know." LOL

  8. Everything written here--I repeat, ev-ery-thing--is true. Thanks for all the honesty. And may your spreadsheet soon register success.

  9. I have so many more ideas, I want to keep moving with different projects. But that first novel being shopped around, it's tough to not think of it as a piece of ME out there. Not sure how to compartmentalize that entirely.

  10. HI
    I just found out about your blog on query tracker and was wondering if it is okay for males to enter the Secret Agent contest? I heard it was okay from people and also heard it was only okay if you had female protags. So, can you please clarify as my book has a male protag and a female protag friend and I am a male writer? Half the people I ask say it is good to go but the other half say this is only for female YA writers?

  11. Hi, Matthew --

    Honestly, I don't know where that perception comes from. This blog and the Secret Agent contests are for all genres except erotica and erotic romanace, and for all writers, both male and female--and all protagonists, both male and female.

    The first novel I went on submission with has a male protagonist, and one of my critique partners is a guy (whose stories have male protagonists). I am honestly baffled as to where this perception might've come from!

    In short, you are warmly welcomed here. :)