Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Should Have Read My Own Blog

The title says it all: I should have read my own blog. The one where I said nothing good happens if I get a little confidence. I should have stayed depressed and sure I would always be one of those pitiful writer wannabe hacks who write for years but never produce anything good enough to get published.

Why would I say that?
Sunday night, I decided it was time to revise my web site and turn the focus to what I hoped would be a historical mystery/romance series revolving around a detective agency called: Second Sons, Discreet Inquiries. I had already written 4 manuscripts with this concept and each ended with a "bonus epilogue" containing a minor, but I hoped enjoyable, twist. I even thought I could use: Tales with a Terminal Twist, as a sort of an all-encompassing sales line.

My agent loved the manuscript I sent her (it was actually the second, but we're not going to talk about my previous abortive effort) and she started trying to sell it. Then, I sent her a second one. This one, she was not so thrilled with, but she's gamely trying to sell that one, too.

Well. Of course, since it's now been months, I got a little confidence that maybe it would sell. I mean, my agent loved the first one, didn't she? So I decided I really was going to be a writer, a published writer, and I redid my web site to be a writer's web site. Even though I hadn't sold yet, I figured I was close so instead of a more hobby (writing and gardening) web site, I created what I considered to be a professional writer site.

Besides, I had read all these other blogs from other writers who said things like: you have to have confidence and present yourself as a professional writer, and if you do, you'll be a professional, published writer.

Sounded like good advice. The sort of solid advice one gives to Olympics-bound athletes. Confidence. That's the ticket.

Naturally, whatever forces power the universe duly noted this slight but significant increase in my level of confidence. Normally, I have none since I've learned that confidence, any confidence, on my part inevitably leads to disappointment and disaster, but for some stupid reason I keep trying to overcome that. I keep trying to take other people's advice.

After showing this minute, microscopic cell's-worth of confidence, I imagine some sort of cosmic conversation went on like this:
"Did you see that that woman actually thinks she might get published?"


"I think she's almost got confidence that she'll sell. She's revised her web site, too. Thinks she's going to get this Second Sons concept off the ground."

Loud guffaw.

"We can't have this. Swat her down like a mosquito in August, and this time, since she had the nerve to redesign her web site around this concept and included excerpts from three of her manuscripts, I want the entire thing crushed. I want everything she's written for the last 4 years, and everything she plans to write for the next few years to be entirely worthless."

"You got it, boss. Entire waste and devastation. No problem."

The day after I revised my web site, I got a boat-load of rejections. Coincidence? Coincidence that I got the rejections the day after I revised my web site to be more professional and to commit to this concept of historical-set mysteries (with a pathetic touch of romance)?

Well, they weren't just the "sorry, not right for us" kinds of rejections. These were the "you're not in tune with the market" kind of rejections. No one wants historical-set mysteries and particularly not with a romance. Your romance was too subtle. It wasn't hot enough. It stunk on ice. Revisions would be so massive that it wouldn't be worth thinking about.

Three publishers didn't even want to look at my work because they loathed even the concept.

Since pretty much everything I've written during the last four years and everything I plan to write over the next few years rests on this concept, I'm basically sitting in a leaking boat watching a great white shark circle me. Waiting. Watching. Hitting the hull with its tail to make the boat sink a little faster. Oh, and I have a nosebleed which seems to make me of even greater interest to the circling shark.

So now what?
I'm going to have to pull back on the web site, for one thing. There's no point in talking about an entire flotilla of related manuscripts that aren't going to make it out the door. Toss out all the plots I'd worked out and have lined up, waiting to be written. Forget about Second Sons. Forget about the Archers.

If I'm not going to write these historical-set mysteries (with a touch, but not hot enough, of romance) then what am I going to write? My brain was entirely wrapped around this idea. I had already tried the contemporary route six years ago but found it more interesting and "natural" for me to set my stories in the late Regency period. I don't know why, but ideas just flowed when I switched to historical-set.

But that's not going to sell, so I have to get over it right now.

Time to stand back. Other writers tell me to try other genres. Mentally, it feels like trying to divert the ocean. It feels like what they're really telling me is that I don't fit in. I'm not one of them. I'm not a writer.

Am I going to give up? Today, I don't know. Tomorrow, I can't say.

1 comment:

Sonja Foust said...

Aw, what a sucky day. I feel your pain and I'm sorry you feel so bad about it! I'm not published either, but I'd say give it a little while to let the rejections lose some of their immediacy before you swear off your genre forever. If it works that well for you, there's got to be a reason. Hang in there.