As Writers, We Spend A Lot of Time Waiting
Tomorrow, after weeks and weeks, the mentees for PitchWars 2018 will be announced. I didn’t enter this year, but I have many friends who did. (Best of luck!)
Meanwhile, in the next week or so, I’ll find out if my panel submissions from last month, for World Fantasy Con, appealed to the schedule coordination team.
And sometime, in the short term future, I’ll hear back from the agent who requested my full (manuscript) a couple months ago.
You know? As a writer, I’ve pretty much always got at least one project going, or at least projects I could be working on. Even when I’m not in the middle of one story, I’m either planning my next story, editing my old ones, or beta-reading for my critique partners. So, you’d think with all this activity, I wouldn’t notice how much time I spend waiting.
Half in terror, half in hope. Will I be found worthy?
And, the strange part is, I’m a little bit scared either way.
It makes sense to fear rejection.
Your work, that you’ve poured your hopes and dreams into for months or years has been measured, weighed, and found wanting.
It’s easy to blame:
- your query
- your writing
- your plotting
- your incorrect read on the actual tastes of the mentor/agent/Editor/etc you submitted to
- or — you know — maybe it’s just the market
It can feel like you’re never going to find someone to believe in you–who can actually take you to that next level, careerwise.
For those panels I submitted? There are famous authors, professional editors of publishing houses, and quality agents on their panels.
- What makes me feel that I’m qualified to talk as if I were an actual professional?
- I didn’t know who to submit with me
- maybe they won’t put my panel suggestions on the schedule because they don’t know who else to put on the panel
- they’d rather not have a ‘panel’ turn into a lecture/Q&A session with a no name.
For those of you querying agents, I know your fears.
- Form rejection letters
- Requests from agents that leave the industry before responding
- Rejected R&Rs (revise and resubmit letters)
But. There’s another side to our fears.
What If I *Am* Selected?
For those of you PitchWars hopefuls — the ones still clinging to hope — I know your fears.
- What if you ARE selected and you can’t measure up?
- Why you, when you see so many other talented writers that didn’t get selected?
- What if you work as hard as you can, do everything you’re asked, and the agents still ignore you?
The mentor saw something in you, saw something they knew how to fix in your manuscript, and either way, your story will improve and you’ll have learned so much!
If you get an agent, I know those fears, too.
- What if the agent can’t find a publisher?
- What if you’ve chosen a bad agent who neglects you?
- What if your agent doesn’t ‘get’ your story and tries to change it into something else?
- What if your agent leaves the industry and you’re dumped back into the cold-query piles?
And for me? With those panels potentially at the end of the month?
- What if I get up there and talk over all the experienced panelists?
- (I know me. I wish I’d be tongue-tied, but I tend to babble when nervous)
- What if I *am* the only panelist?
- What if I can’t gather my thoughts and sound like a fool?
- What if there are belligerent panelists who antagonize me?
It’s easy to make lists of fears. But eventually, most of them boil down to one thing, and one thing only:
Facing Impostor Syndrome
Getting to the next stage in our writing careers is a great recipe for Impostor Syndrome. And the only way past that is to fake-it-til-you-make-it.
Prepare as hard as you can, do your homework, and try your best.
And in the meantime, finish editing that thing you were working on.
Thanks for reading and wish me luck!
I’m wishing all of you the BEST of luck, with your PitchWars or agent or publisher queries and submissions.
P.S. Let me know I’m not alone in these fears, that I’m not just projecting my fears on the rest of you.