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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Back to Earth - IWSG May 2022

Welcome to IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of the amazing and generous Alex Cavanaugh. Thank you to the May co-hosts: Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon! To find links to all IWSG contributors, click here.

This month’s question: It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs? And what are your writer lows?

A few years ago, I signed up for Grub Street’s Muse in the Marketplace. Generally, I’m reluctant to attend conferences because when I arrive, my “I’m-nothing-but-a-fake” demon inflates inside me, but somehow that year I beat down my fear. I even signed up for a critique session which involved sending sample pages to an agent prior to the event.

In spite of high anxiety, the day was a success, the workshops outstanding and in my mind, my agent one-on-one went worlds better than expected. The woman I’d been partnered with seemed engaged. She offered me sound advice and even appeared regretful when our time was up. All I’d wanted that day was to sit with a professional and acquit myself competently, so when she asked me to send her partial of the book I was querying, I didn’t so much walk out of that meeting, I sailed. It was enough of a rush to have enjoyed the conference, but piquing an agent’s interest in my novel? That wasn’t just frosting on the proverbial cake, it was ice cream, homemade fudge sauce and a massive dollop of whipped cream, too. I sent my submission lickety split.

But that’s all she wrote—pun very much intended—because I received no follow up—no request to read more, no “Thanks, but no thanks.” Nothing. Zip.

Now in case you’re wondering, by that point I’d written three books and queried two. I’d received partial requests, full requests, every manner of form rejection and was no stranger to dead air. But that day, I let my guard down. I left the conference over the moon. My husband took me out to dinner that night and I couldn’t stop talking. I was so proud of myself for conquering my fears, and while I wasn’t expecting a book deal out of it, I was convinced the agent was enthusiastic. I thought at least I’d get a helpful letter telling me why she was rejecting my novel. But instead, I got nada. I emailed after a couple of months, crossing my fingers that the lack of communication was an oversight, but received no reply to my email either.

I get it. Agents drown in volume. One  needs to be a great writer with a unique concept with the best query, and it needs to land in front of the right person at the perfect time. I can’t imagine all the queries agents (or their assistants and interns) have to wade through. But darn it. That meeting filled me with hope. These days, the cynic in me figures I was na├»ve—that requesting a partial was that agent’s personal code for “no interest.” It was easier than saying “no” face-to-face to an eager author wanna-be.

So, there it is, a best and worst tied together. Nothing earth shattering. I keep writing. Periodically I rouse myself to query some more. But this month’s question triggered the memory of that happy day I blasted off like a skyrocket, only to drift to earth a few months later—wondering how I’d managed to fool myself into believing my agent meeting had been a success.