One step done and another begun
And I wonder how many miles? – Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia, New Speedway Boogie
Do you play video games? I’m talking about the relatively simple ones where your objective is to clear the screen, a game like Bejeweled or Zuma, or, going way back, Space Invaders or Pac Man. Those games start out easy enough. But each time you complete a level by clearing the screen, the next level gets harder. The music becomes more obnoxious, there’s less time, the bad things move faster. Writing – rather, becoming published – is like this. Who knew?
This week I finally joined the ranks of the queriers (is that even a word? eh, it is now). I thought writing the book was hard. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard. There were plenty of times I quite literally banged my forehead against my desk or exploded out of my chair and stomped around the house, indiscriminately dropping F-bombs as I went. But it was cake, it was level 1, compared to the query.
I’ve been trying to prepare for this stage since last summer. From time-to-time I would draft a query letter or two, play around with it a bit, before forgetting about it and getting back to the task at hand: finishing the damn book. But I finally got to the point where I said, “I’ve taken this book as far as I can go. I’m comfortable with sending this out now,” and it was on to the query, which has become a full-time job in itself. How do you condense your 93,000-word masterpiece into three paragraphs? It’s hard. Or maybe it’s just me over-analyzing it, that’s quite possible, maybe even likely. I started a fresh document with the best query. Each time I revised, I added the newer query at the bottom of the document. That document reached 44 pages before I finally decided I had it. Then I started a new one and did the same thing. That one hit 11 pages before I said “I’ve got it! This is good!”
Of course, now it’s time to send it, and that means it’s time to personalize the letter. And doesn’t that lead to all kinds of crazy head-games? There are several agents out there that I’d really love to work with – how do you say that without sounding like a total suck-up? It’s funny, I have gotten to the point where I actually AM confident about my writing, where I’ve thought I can shed this Doubting Writer label – now the query is setting me back to square one.
Well, it’s done, the first few are out the door. By the end of the week I should have all of my ‘first round’ out, and then we play the waiting game. If my query is good, I’ll advance to the next level, and we’ll see how much harder it gets. And so, because I am now in the waiting stage, here’s some Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I don’t think I’ve played this one before; if I have, forgive me. Have a great weekend, all.