Monday, July 11, 2011

That's What friends are For

As a writer, I'm often second guessing my work. I think it's safe to say I'm my own worst critic. In fairness, what writer doesn't feel this way? I have a friend who's an excellent writer but just can't stop ripping his own work to shreds. In fact, it took him years to work up the guts just to share his work with fellow writers. When he finally did, he was surprised at how well received it was.

How I feel about my writing depends on a number of factors. If I'm having success in other areas of my life, I love my writing. If I've gotten an unsollicited compliment, I love my writing. If I get five rejection letters in one day, I hate my writing. If I enter a contest and don't win, I hate my writing.  And I especially hate my writing when I have writer's block.  Like good writing has ebbs and flows, so do my emotions about this career I both love and hate.

Lately, I've been on a downward trend with the writing. While I've been getting rave reviews on line for my latest offering on my favorite author sharing web site, it didn't win a contest I recently entered.  I also haven't been able to snag an agent for this work. Add to that the fact that I haven't sold a copy of my latest book since September of last year and that makes for a pretty low point in a writer's life.

Just last night, I was sharing these feelings with a good friend of mine. She's a fellow writer who happens to be on her way up.  While I don't fault her for that, I always have that I wish it was me feeling. I've had a number of agents, but I have yet to find that one who can sell my work.  To make myself feel better about this, I have to remind myself one agent was a blatant scam artist while another had some questionable business practices that have earned a number of negative reviews on Preditors and Editors.

As I vented to my friend, I threw out the idea of giving up. Being the supportive friend that she is, she immediately advised against that.  She said all the right things a good friend should say, including the fact that I'm too talented to just quit. I had to smile when she said getting published, even at age eighty, still meant I'd acheived my dream. I had to smile because I'm not even forty yet. That gives me a little over forty years to accomplish my goal.

After listening to my friend last night, I woke up this morning with this realization that she's right. Quitting isn't in me, at least not when it comes to writing. With this fresh resolve, I vowed to start anew.  I logged onto Publisher's Market Place and started combing the agent listing. While I waited to get a prescription filled for my sick child, I dashed off a few query letters via email and waited. You could've knocked me over with a feather when I got a reply today asking to see my whole manuscript. Given that such prompt response is unheard of in a booming business such as ours, I did some research on the agent. I was elated to find she's a reputable agent with a proven track record of success.  I'd say that bodes well.

A request for the manuscript is a far cry from an offer of representation or publication, but it's a place to start. And it's a place I wouldn't be at today if it wasn't for my friend's encouragement yesterday. They say that's what friends are for, but I still owe her a thank you.

Thanks, Erica! 

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