Being my Own Best Cheerleader is Tiring Business

Rooting for myself gets tiring after awhile, you know what I mean? Thinking positive, buoying myself up, disciplining my thoughts (or trying). I read others’ blogs and am happy for their new publishing contracts, only to have that feeling become tinged with a little…envy? melancholy? self-pity? Something annoying, let’s put it that way.

I don’t know what I’m going to do if my agent comes back to me all tapped out of editors. She’s been shopping my manuscript around for awhile and has received many positive rejections (so oxymoronic, but there you go)…What will I do?

I know what I’ll do: I’ll grieve, hope that my agent will want to represent my next novel, and return to the tiring task of being my own best cheerleader once again.

It’s frustrating to have finally figured out what I’m supposed to be doing in this life of mine, yet unable to wholeheartedly DO IT. Sometimes it feels arbitrary, who lands contracts, who doesn’t. Sometimes I feel like there’s something more I should be doing, only I can’t quite figure out what, except to keep setting down sentences, one after another.

That said, I wrote six pages today, a good writing day, and a gang of us are going to see a friend’s play tonight. I’m sure I’ll drink a glass (or two?) of red wine afterwards.

Anyone got any bright ideas on what else I can do to help my cause (besides going into therapy)?

Hey, How’s Your Novel Doing?

It must be the time of year, because I’m feeling extra annoyed. Just now, the Mysterious Mr. M sent me an email in response to Monday’s post. He empathizes with my rejection agitation because he’s currently in search of a literary agent and received a thanks-but-no-thanks letter from an agent he liked.

In this agent’s rejection letter, she mentioned that editors are running after legal thrillers, zombie detectives, and urban fantasies (which means what exactly?). So, I’m annoyed on his behalf and extra annoyed at the moment because his email got me thinking about a conversation I had earlier this week.

This conversation mimics dozens upon dozens that have come before it, and it goes something like this:

Person I haven’t seen for awhile and don’t know well: “Hey, how’s your novel doing?”

Me: “Uhm, well, I finally landed an agent not too long ago and…”

Person, smile faltering: “Oh, I thought for sure your novel would be published by now.” (Or some variation of this theme with the unsaid thought: How hard could it be?)

Me, in my head: !!$#!%&!!!!

It’s true that hundreds of thousands of books are published each year. What outsiders to the publishing industry don’t understand is that the number of publishing slots available for debut novelists is tiny, in large part because book publishing is like any other big business: going after the surefire money as often as possible. Not huge on risk-taking, those multinational multimedia conglomerates.

Plus, seems like everyone with a computer is writing. Agents are inundated with crap, and even if a talented newcomer makes it out of an agent’s slush pile — not a given — he or she is likely to get rejected anyhow because of market trends. This is Mr. M’s current plight.

I’m one of the lucky ones who made it past slush and into the hands of an agent who believes in my work. And I do mean it when I say “lucky” because, given talent, sometimes it’s only luck that differentiates the published from the unpublished, or the agented from the unagented. (Actually, with some books talent was obviously not a factor, but this is a rant for another time.)

I don’t bother explaining all this to people who ask, “Hey, how’s your novel doing?” Instead, I sometimes want to wonder aloud why in the realm of creative pursuits, it’s considered easier to become a working novelist (by this I mean no day-job needed) than, say, a working painter or a working musician.

Frankly, I think we creatives who are truly going for it must be a crazy bunch. But we gotta do what we gotta do, right?

Agitated at Kodi’s Coffee & Cafe

kodi1.jpgkodi3.jpgI didn’t finish writing my daily five pages today because as the morning wore on, I felt more and more agitated. Restless. Possibly even a smidge neurotic. I was trying not to think about the latest batch of rejection letters my literary agent lately received from editors.

I don’t think I’m reaching for the stars here. I know my novel is worthy of publication. It’s just that I have no control over market trends and, frankly, luck. It’s disheartening that my novel’s fate rests on whether my agent happens to send the manuscript to the right editor at the right time. There’s just no predicting. She’s savvy, and she’ll contact the next batch of editors after the holidays; meanwhile, I gotta let go of that over which I have no control.


But, agitation happens despite my good intentions.

Mental health requires me to leave my apartment and go among people when I’m agitated. I most often hit my favorite WiFi cafe, Kodi’s Coffee & Cafe. I chat with the owner, Bruce (who is friendly with Denis Johnson, National Book Award winner!) and the other regulars. Then, I often take Kodi, the coffee kodi4.jpghouse’s mascot, for a walk to the dog park.

Kodi loves me. I’m his Aunt Lisa, and the moment I enter the coffee shop he’s right up against my leg. Believe me, this is balm for an agitated heart. The dog park also calms my nerves. My brain empties in a most satisfying manner while I watch the dogs mount each other, sniff behinds, and run around like spazzes. I laugh alot. By the time I return, I’m a sane person again.

At the moment, I’m still a bit distracted, feeling sorry for my rejected manuscript…poor thing. It only wants to see itself in print. On the other hand, I’m sane enough that I’ll now finish my allotted five pages.