Monday, July 5, 2010

Searching, Searching, Finding?

I became a writer, in part, because business bores me.  To be more specific, making things is more interesting than selling things in my world.  Thus, having an agent, someone to take care of the business end of creation, is essential.

But it is impossible to find an agent without doing business-y things.  I have a spreadsheet packed with critical details: name of agency, name of agent, submission details, date of submission, manuscript submitted, and the like.  It is eerily similar to the spreadsheets I made during my stint in custom publishing.  I am sending missives off into the void with little hope of hearing an echo in reply.

It is grim work.  I didn't write or edit my projects for a few days.  My typing consisted of Google searches and information copy-pasted into the hated spreadsheet.  I spent hours alone as goblins and vikings fled before the all-important Search.

Today, I stumbled across a few forums of fellow writers.  They too had been firing off queries and manuscripts into the electronic desert, their hopes attached to digital wings.  "How long should I wait without a reply?" one anguished author asked.  Responses poured in.  "Two months!"  "Six weeks!"  "Six months!"  "I waited a year before getting a form rejection."

At first, I thought, how pathetic they are, like a bunch of broken gamblers recounting bad beat stories over cigarettes.  I'll never be like them!

But as I kept reading, my disgust disappeared.  Some of the posters had been around for years, collecting enough rejections to construct a fortress of platitudes.  Yet they kept writing, kept submitting, kept marching forward.  I am only now sending work into the wild, and am already haunted by the specter of future rejection.

They have been rejected only minutes after sending out a query.  They have had agents ask for full manuscripts only to say no after months of silence.  They have had their hearts lifted and broken countless times.  They have gotten drunk in celebration after an agent scheduled a phone call, and gotten drunk after the agent never actually called.

They are not pitiable figures, these erstwhile writers struggling and failing to realize their dreams.  They are heroes, at least in my book.  How many are too afraid of failure to even try?  How many die thinking "I should have told her I love her" or "I should have left my job" or "I should have written that book about nuclear-powered midget robots"?

These writers will die without regrets.  They have felt more than almost anyone else, even if what they have felt is mostly pain.

It is the pain of childbirth.  Of watching your child learn what it means to have a broken heart.  It is the special pain reserved for those who dare to fight for their dreams.

I will write; I will know rejection.  I will probably fail.  But like those courageous idiots on the writer's forums, I will write until they pry the keyboard from my cold, dead hands.

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