Well it’ll be the last rejection for a while at least.
Today I got the form rejection letter from the last agent I queried. I’m not going to query again straight away. I know that the standard advice is to query 100 agents and not to start panicking about your work until you’ve been turned down at least 80 times but I’m not sure there are 80 agents representing Urban Fantasy in the English speaking world. Good agents, anyway. And what’s the point in pissing off potential agents by querying them with a broken novel?
I don’t know if my novel is broken. I’ve had conflicting feedback. I need to think about it for a while. I probably need to sell a kidney so I can afford a development editor to tell me what’s wrong with it.
Or I could stick the whole thing out somewhere for free. Give up on the idea of ever earning anything back for my effort.
Or I could give up on it. Just stick it in a virtual drawer and try something else. I really don’t want to do that because I have plans for the characters and for the world. I have other novels that I’m working on that are linked to it. I wouldn’t just be giving up on that one story but on literally dozens of others.
At the moment I’m trying to work on one of the other stories in the hope that I can pitch that as the first in the series instead. If that one doesn’t work there’s maybe one more that I could use as the starting point but it’s a lot more work and maybe the whole thing is just doomed. Maybe these are stories that would never sell.
Perhaps it’s presumptuous to assume that there is a solution. That would be to assume that I can succeed at something and so far there’s no evidence to support that assumption. I’m not going to stop writing. I have to fill my time somehow. But I might give up on the idea of trying to get anyone else to read what I write.
Today I got a report from a beta reader about the opening of the novel that I’ve been querying and it’s making me wonder if I really am deluded about being a writer.
There’s a grammar problem right at the beginning that’s bad enough to drive off an agent and I can’t see it even now that it’s been pointed out. Also it’s apparently unclear who kills who. Which is a huge problem. If I can’t make that sort of thing obvious then what hope do I have for the more complicated and nuanced stuff.
I don’t know how to fix any of this. I don’t know how to build the skills necessary to fix it. I don’t even know if I should fix it.
I have so few spoons on any given day. Maybe I should stop wasting them on something that I have so little aptitude for. My house is a mess. My body is a wreck. Maybe I should be concentrating on those instead. But what’s the point of a tidier house and a slightly less fucked body if I’m not making or doing anything?
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I’ll look at the comments tomorrow and I’ll know how to fix it. Maybe the beta reader is wrong about some of it.
Maybe. But it seems much more likely that I just suck at writing. I suck at most things so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I suck at this too.
So I threatened to interview one of my characters and then I introduced you to the pub where I planned to meet them but here’s where it gets interactive. Who do you want to meet? I’m going to list a few of my characters using descriptions that are not necessarily helpful but which I find humorous.
Who do you want to get to know? You can pick more than one becuase pub banter is better with a small group. Don’t worry about picking people who go together because it’s up to me to make the group work.
- The “Government Fraud Investigator”. She’s more than meets the eye. She’s got a shotgun in her desk for one thing.
- The “Witch of the Tower”. Either before or after the tattoos, you choose.
- The copper. AKA New boy.
- The priest. He only looks like a famous vampire hunter.
- The psychic. Just don’t let her touch anything you own if you want to keep your secrets.
- The IT guy. He’s got an armoured rucksack full of exotic computer equipment and a sticker that says Temporal Engineer – Causality is my bitch
- The coffee ninja. Don’t hold his caffein based kleptomania against him. He’s a really good manager.
- The scientist. She’s super impatient, she looks like a tiny drag queen and she’s the biggest fangirl in the Department.
- The soldier. She’s got an Irish battle Goddess in her head but she’s actually pretty chill most of the time.
- The spy. I could tell you what’s going on in his head but then he’d have to kill you.
- The historian. She knows where all the bodies are buried and she’s 100% honest 94% of the time.
- The thief. He’s also a spy but only in the sense that he knicks things for queen and country.
Stick your answers in the comments, or reply on Twitter or Facebook or Google+
A few days ago I threatened to introduce you to my characters. I said I could nip into the pub for a quiet pint and a chat with them. But If I’m going to do that I should probably introduce you to the pub first.
There’s one in every city if you know where to look. It’s always on a quiet side street. It’s not exactly hiding, it’s very clearly a pub, but the eye has a way of gliding across the sign and the name has a way of slipping your mind but if someone actually suggests meeting there you immediately say “Oh JW’s? Of course I know where that is,” and you do.
From the outside it looks quite small but you can tell that it’s one of those pub that’s been carved out of a series of liminal spaces. It will be a labyrinth of snugs, and lounges, and bars, and corridors. You’ll need a map and a compass to find the Ladies loo and the route back to your seat will look so unfamiliar that you’ll be sure you’ve taken a wrong turning.
It’s right in the sweet spot where you can’t tell if it’s a genuine traditional British Pub or a slightly battered chain pub that’s just pretending to be one. There are two large windows with bullseye glass panes on either side of a doorway that’s slightly too narrow for the double doors it has and slightly too wide for a single. There’s a sign above the door. Black with letters in peeling gold paint that say JW’s Cocktail Bar and underneath it Dimensionally Transcendental food and drink. Established 2323. There’s also a blackboard bolted to the wall next to the door. No mention of specials, or discounts or forthcoming events. It just says Your local bar wherever you are ~ Caterers to the Big Bang.
Inside there is always music. Sometimes it’s karaoke, sometimes it’s a band but mostly it’s a jukebox. Well, you assume it’s a jukebox. People claim to have seen it and even to have selected tunes but you don’t know where it is. It must be huge because it has the the most eclectic selection of music you’ve ever heard. Once you heard a Johnny Cash cover of Ace of Spades that you tried to buy later but that doesn’t seem to exist.
So join me there for a quiet pint and some people watching. I’ll be in the room with the knackered red leather booths. You know, the one with the piano. No not the electric piano, the upright chained to the wall with the warning signs and the fake blood stains. Well I hope they’re fake.