Happy Sunday (and for my fellow Americans, Happy Post-Thanksgiving Food Coma)! Forgive me if I fall asleep at the keyboard today…all of the blood in my body has rushed to my stomach in an attempt to digest the ridiculous amounts of roasted meat I consumed over the course of the 4-day weekend. *clutches chest, suffers mild heart attack* ‘s okay, I’m fine.
Today I want to talk about starting something new.
You’ve finished your book. You’ve written your query and have started submitting to agents (by diligently following their submission guidelines, of course) or have given your book to your agent to start submitting to editors. The hand-wringing and panic attacks begin. Oh my stars and garters, what is a writer to do at a horrific time like this?
Start a new book!
Personally, I have found that the only way to combat the query-crazies is to lose myself in another project. If you’re like me, you have 5,000 ideas in your idea notebook, and maybe 1 or 2 (or in my case 5-10) that are “screaming” the loudest at you in the back of your mind. Now is the perfect time to start fleshing out those ideas, and to choose the subject of your next book.
Starting something new will ease the obsessive cycle of worry and panic that consumes you once you have started querying. I have found that it actually helps me face rejection as well, because after the initial pain I can brush myself off and say “well, maybe next time.” Rejection feels a whole lot different when you’re knee-deep in new work instead of hanging all your hope on a single project, nervously waiting in the wings and watching it fail. Sometimes I even forget that I HAVE a book out on submission because I’m so focused on the new one.
Additionally, if you reach the painful decision to give up on a book you are querying (because sometimes you’ve done all you can and it’s still going nowhere), you have something to fall back on. You can put your energy into this fledgling project. It’s still going to hurt to give up on a book, but it’ll hurt a whole lot less when you realize you’re far from “finished.” That wasn’t a swan song, that was a fucking battle-cry. Sure the field is littered with corpses, but there’s a second army in the trees and they’re going to come out swinging (in like, 1 or 2 years, when they’re actually good).
Writing is your CAREER, my dears (even if you haven’t been published yet). And a career isn’t made of one book, or two books. A career is as many fucking books as you can pump out before your heart stops. Why are you wasting time worrying about 1 when you have 20 waiting for you to shine a light on them?
Another important point: publishing is slow. Don’t believe me? Look at this post by John Scalzi about why new novelists are kinda old. He got an offer on his debut novel in 2002 and it didn’t get published until 2005. That doesn’t even count all of the time spent querying before the offer was received. Do you think he was waiting around, hoping and dreaming, for all those years? Nope. He was writing something else. Probably multiple somethings.
So, friends. Do yourselves a favor and start something new. That way, if you get the kind of rejection where they go, “Love you, love your writing, don’t love this book” you can be like “wait about THIS? No? WHAT ABOUT THIS?!” and just throw book after book after book at them until they buy something just to stop the pain. That’s what I’m planning on doing!