You are a writer, no matter what happens with your book.
Spend fifteen minutes reading one of those articles titled, “What Agents are Looking For,” and you’ll find yourself sliding down into despair. It will immediately become clear that what these agents are looking for is most decidedly not you. They want a blogger with a minimum reach of half a million clicks a day. Or how about a personality, preferably one with her own TV or radio show, podcast or weekly column? In other words, these agents are in the market for a writer who’s already famous – someone like Stephen King, say, an author with enough of a following that he can publish novels from his website and still make more money than you have ever dared to dream about.
The problem is that even after you’ve come to the conclusion that not one of these agents is looking for you, a writer who has worked hard for years to hone her craft, you still want to land a respected publisher for your book. During the years you crafted this book, you imagined that one day it would sail into the hands of readers, who after devouring your words would feel inspired and moved. You have every right to feel bad and wallow for a time. It might help to drink a wee bit too much Chardonnay or Jack Daniels, if that suits you, knowing that you will pay for it in the morning with a terrible acidy taste in your mouth and a raging headache. It would be best to wait a day until you’re feeling better, and then go ahead and draft that query letter, letting these agents know why your book matters. When you’re done, proof the letter carefully several times for typos. And then, without giving it another thought, press Send.
Now, get outside and take a walk. If you’re lucky enough to live near the beach, stroll down the sand, letting your bare feet sink down while you gaze out toward the horizon. Let the rhythm of the waves and your steps, one after the other, take your mind off the hopeless track on which you’ve been stuck. Instead, listen carefully as a voice reminds you that you are a writer, no matter what happens with this book. Allow fragile ideas for books you haven’t even thought about but will soon write begin to percolate, as you marvel at how the view from the shore seems to go on to infinity. Notice the various shades of blue and green that color the water and think about how you might describe this. And don’t forget to feel a sense of gratitude for this planet you are privileged to inhabit.
When you’re ready, head home. In the morning, pull out a clean sheet of paper and start writing again. After getting another thousand words down, you’ll be surprised that you’re already starting to climb up out of the dumps. You are a writer, after all. And this, like the glorious planet we live on, is something you can feel awfully good about.
What are you going to do today to feel good about yourself?