20 November 2009

It's a Funny Little Thing...

Every time I decide I'm going to begin querying my novel, every time I announce the hunt, enlist in encouragers, beg my husband to ask me daily "have you finished your agent list yet?", something inevitably comes up to change my mind.

Now, before you go accusing me of giving in to fear, let me explain. The first time, I decided it was time, I decided it best not to just send out a few queries and see what happened. I decided to do some in depth research, to hunt down agents and agencies that really believed in the genre in which I write. Thus I began my in depth agent research. While I was doing that, I realized my query was weak. Very weak and very...wordy. So I sliced and diced and deleted and rewrote until I came up with what is now what I believe a very good query indeed.

So what is it this time? Oh it's quite simple. The story isn't ready.

Can I tell you it pains me to type that? I've wrestled with it ever since I submitted a two line hook to a contest this past Sunday. If they pick mine and ask for more, so be it. I'll be excited. I entered the contest and it lit a fire under my fanny to enter all my pen and ink edits into the computer. Something I have not had the energy to do. (Have I mentioned my trilogy is loooooong?) Knowing if they chose my hook entry, I would have to have an edited manuscript ready should they ask, I started entering those edits. Getting up before the sun to put them in. Staying up late adding little things, taking away unnecessary apostrophes (I just love those things...), the usual.

This started Monday. I excitedly took out my whopper of an manuscript and began. I love my story. I believe in it. But something doesn't sit right with me about it. To be honest, I don't know what it is.

The first three books are written. Yes, there's more to the story. I have yet to begin writing the rest, but it's there, floating around in my head. And it's a good story (no really!). So what is preventing me from submitting the query in hopes of having an agent request a partial or a full peek at it?

I wish I knew. All I know is that I'm going to enter these edits. All three manuscripts have more marks than a well used Rand McNally Atlas. It's not the content, it's the feel. It doesn't feel right. Does that make sense? I can feel book two and book three. It's book one that's bothering me. Maybe I am afraid. Maybe I feel there's too much of what so many are saying you shouldn't put in. Maybe I should just put in those edits and let 'er fly. When I start thinking this way, however, I remember something I read a month or so ago: It's never too late to submit your work but it can be too early.

Should I risk sending my project out there too early? Risk having it turned down by everyone only to confirm the feeling in my gut? Risk being haunted by the "what ifs?" I get every time I see something vaguely similar on the shelves? Or should I stick to my gut and pick it apart, making it the best I know it can be. Should I keep at it until I can crack open that file and really feel the story. Really get into it. Really believe in my characters and the trouble they're in?

Honestly, I'd rather just let it go, send it out, see what happens. Seize the day and all that. But, again, there's a hitch in my heart that won't let me. My original plan was to research agencies and edit and send out queries after Thanksgiving. I'm now leaning more towards January.

And you know what? I'm ok with that. I'm ok with taking a little more time. I'm ok with sitting down with my manuscript one more time, reading with an open mind, a hungry heart, and let it sing to me. Because if it doesn't sing, it's not ready to be sent.

Happy weekend to you all!


Blondie said...

Don't overanalyze or edit Jen! I'm sure it's amazing. Give it a try! Kori xoxo

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Good for you, taking your time! Don't do what I did... you only get your first shot with a book once. Not that you can't re-submit, but a first shot is a big deal. Taking your time is wise. It can only make the book better than it already is--which is INCREDIBLE! Instincts are a good thing.

Karen Walker said...

Only you can know what that feeling that "it's not right" means. So it's important to take that time to figure it out. If you discover that it's fear, than you won't have lost anything by waiting. But if it's a nudge that something needs more work, you'll benefit greatly from waiting.

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

I know the feeling....I have a couple of childrens books that are sitting in boxes. I get them out..look. read...think to myself..hey..these are cute...then back into the box. And so it goes...on and on...for years.

I went to a writers group for many years..I might have told you...about 90% published authors...also use to go to a childrens writers group...the lady that runs it is Elizabeth Spurr...she has several published children's books..check her out on Amazon if you are intereted in children's. She called and asked me back to kiddie writers....I am thinking about you..January.

The writers group was a great support...alot of people would read their querries and get great advice.

Keep'll know when it feels right....

More later and Happy Weekend.


Glynis said...

It will suddenly dawn on you what the problem is. You will just know, scratch the itch and send it off. You will fret if you send it knowing you are not happy with it. Moving the timeline is a wise thing to do.
Good luck :)

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I'd listen to the little voice; it's usually right. Figure out if it's telling you to change for change's sake or because the manuscript really needs it. I think you'll know when you've done as much as you can.


Tabitha Bird said...

I think you will know when it is ready to send. And the fact that you don't probably means you are right and it is not ready. And really, what is the harm in going through the book again until it feels right? There is no rush to query. There will always be time to query. It is better to send out a book you believe in then one you are waiting to have rejected. I am reediting mine for the sam reason. It does not feel right and I know it is not ready.

Also, have you have a critique partner read it? That is a great indication of how ready your WIP is. They see things you will never see in a million edits. Fresh eyes make a HUGE difference.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I can see both sides to this. Usually I say 'go with your gut'...except my gut says my books are NEVER ready. I drive my agent and editors nuts by turning in a manuscript on deadline...and then sending a revised one the next day. "Can you read this one instead? Thanks!" The following day: "Can you read THIS one instead? Last time, I promise!" The next day...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lin said...

You'll know when you are ready. But remember---no guts,no glory!

Carla Gade said...

I thought I was just reading my own post! Sounds so much like me. I don't think it hurts to take your time, but I did hear some excellent advice and when I'm ready I'm going to do it . . . DO IT SCARED!

NCmountainwoman said...

I have no doubt you will make the right decision. And it's always better to think things through. Good luck!

Jen Chandler said...

Thanks guys! I really needed that encouragement. I am still editing and once that's done, I'll reread the entire thing once more and then let it be. I have a terrible time of 'finishing', like Elizabeth, thinking it's never done. But I know if I don't stop, it will never see beyond my front door :)

Carla: Thanks so much for following!

...mmm... said...

Well, keep plugging away. You can only release it when you feel ready. you will know when that is. Glad you;ve come to some peace about waiting though.