Learning to Want it Less

I've said it before and I'll say it again, querying is tough. You're basically wrapping up your heart in tissue paper and having it shoved back at you with a curt "no thanks". Okay, to be fair, the rejections are not always curt. Some are, sure, but a lot of the rejections I've received (even form) have been kind and encouraging. Even from huge, big named agents who I'm not exactly sure why they're open to queries anymore, since they represent half of whoever's on the NYT list that week.

You have to search for the kindness in this process. You also have to search for what querying can teach you. Oh, it's taught me a lot. To be less precious with my writing. To have the faith in myself that books don't need a year of editing before they're ready to query. It's taught me how to summarize, something I never thought I could do. Two years ago, the thought of writing a query and synopsis had me in a cold sweat. Now, I can churn out a decent first draft in an hour or so. Oh, it takes many more hours to get it ready to query. But I've gotten a lot better at nailing the plot of the story in less than 400 words.

I try to remove my ego from the process. Life is not fair. Some people are going to write crappy books and sell a lot. Like enough to buy their own private island. That is not about me. Yeah, it's hard when you think you're still not where you need to be, when other people are flying past you and making progress. Also, as far as ego goes, it's taught me to be prepared for those little things that will pop up once I'm published. I don't let a rejection ruin my day, the same way I won't let other things ruin my day (like, let's say a terrible book review) once I'm published. I've learned to roll with the punches. My skin gets tougher with each passing day.

The main lesson I've learned is to want it less. Amy Poehler has a great chapter in her book Yes Please about wanting it less. How not to depend on your career. Because it can seem like if you want it too much, you're that guy who just wouldn't take a hint. And your career is that girl who's blocked you on Facebook for being a creeper. So I try to let go of expectation, even when good things happen. I write other things. This year has been a banner success in Writing Other Things, with three novels completed so far.

Sure, I rant and rave. That day I got three rejections in the span of three hours, I may have pouted and declared it wasn't fair. But then I moved on and queried more the next day. I focused on my new, shiny project and tried to forget about those queries floating out there in agents' mailboxes. Because I know it will happen soon. As long as I push my ego out of the way and keep moving forward.