Friday, August 04, 2006

The Agony of De-Feet

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Everyone has been sharing their conference stories this week, so I thought I would do the same. I didn't conquer any fears or strike up a new friendship with a random stranger, but I did have a good time. I'm an introvert, so its always difficult. I got to try out some great new outfits, jewelry and shoes - which are great conversation starters by the way. Random strangers stopped me and complimented me on various parts of my outfit. I got to strut around in the sort of bling that doesn't make sense in the normal world. That was pretty nice. And for the most part, my feet didn't hurt. The new gray sandals I broke in Friday made my black jeweled sandals hurt more than normal after a night of dancing Friday night, but I only limped a little. Plus, I wasn't the only woman walking through the Marriott Marquis lobby with her shoes in her hand. Thank goodness they had clean, squishy carpeting.

I honestly spent more of my conference socializing than hovered over a spiral pad taking notes. I hit the couple important workshops I knew wouldn't be taped, then scuttled down to events like the publisher booksignings, eHQ PJ party, the Blaze Birthday Party, and the Nocturne premiere. I brought home 40+ books, so I think between the six of us, about 200 books came back to Huntsville (you lucky blog readers, you!).

Nationals is a roller coaster of emotions. You laugh, you cry at a touching speech, you have ah-ha and oh-no moments, you want to crawl under a rock and die, you fly on cloud 9...its really an exhausting ride, especially for the normally even keeled, like me. I do have to say that I feel a little discouraged after conference each year. I know I should march home and jump onto my computer jazzed up and ready to go. I guess I'm just not the optimist Instigator is. I've been told this is called "Conference Brain Drain."

Honestly, I've returned home with this unshakable sense of impending doom. That something dumb I said or did is about to come crashing down on my head. The weird thing is that I didn't have a bad conference. I'm just waiting for a shoe to drop and trying not to flee in advance of something that isn't going to happen. I've got no claims to psychic abilities, so this is just me being a ninny for the most part.

One thing that didn't help was a publisher spotlight that kind of brought me down. I realized that the line I was targeting was looking for something I'm not sure I can deliver (BTW - these are the people with my book). The editor belabored about what she was looking for and although the playfriends have assured me otherwise, I don't think my manuscripts deliver the feel she's looking for. It may, but it has left me with this nagging sick feeling in my stomach...what if it doesn't? Where will it fit? If not category, then single title? Very few people charge successfully into the single title market without an agent. So what...I need an agent?

Stomach ache number two. I've never given much thought to agents because I've focused primarily on category publishing. Several workshops I went to emphasized the importance of getting the right agent. One that is excited about your work, fits with your personality and will fight for you. They said not to take on an agent just because they agree to represent you. It's hard enough to find an agent at all, much less find the professional equivalent of a soul mate. Now, after struggling to find one, I'm supposed to turn them down because they aren't the best fit?? Great.

So this has brought me back home with a feeling of restlessness and defeat on top of the normal numbness from the neck up. My MS is still up at the publisher awaiting its fate. The conference has made me even more nervous about the fact that I haven't heard anything. If and when a letter comes back, one way or another, I guess I'll progress from there and keep chugging along. I guess that's all any of us can do. In the meantime, if you see me hiding under my desk like an air raid siren is going off, its just me anticpating the worst.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
60,750 / 70,000


Linda Winstead Jones said...

It's easy to get sucked into information overload at conference, and when you get conflicting information from seemingly reliable sources it's easy to give in to the urge to throw up your hands and run through the hotel lobby, screaming and shoeless. :-)

Come out from under the desk, SP. All will be well.


Angel said...

Well, at least I'm not the only pessimist in the group!

I think a lot of what you are going through is connected to your worries over your manuscript (plus hangover Conference Brain Drain). I know when I submitted mine and the line I submitted to changed, it about paralyzed my efforts to write anything.

Things change so quickly and we're supposed to second guess what editors want. And they always say they want unique voices, but the guidelines ask for the same old thing. Very frustrating, at least for me, because I spend all my time worrying that I'm not "unique" enough or I won't fit the mold the editor has said she wants.

I can write and submit, over and over, but this issue is the most frustrating when it comes to trying to be published, in my opinion.

So keep your chin up. I'm encouraged to see that you are still writing and revising, despite your concerns. That's a good thing!


Playground Monitor said...

I think that's one thing that keeps me from going back to the book I started -- the line changed drastically and it just won't fit anymore. And neither will the first one I started and abandoned. And I honestly don't know where they would fit and it seems a waste to write something that's not marketable especially when I've been writing short stories that have been selling. I still have moments of feeling like such an imposter -- a member of RWA who isn't writing a novel -- and hoping no one will find out and kick me out of the club.

Meanwhile, the brain is beginning to come back online. I wrote a 4-page piece yesterday to submit to a different magazine. Only problem is that it's 5 pages and I have to cut out a page.


Problem Child said...

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

After conference, I'm always second guessing the sellability of my stuff, my craft, etc. Just the sheer numbers of unpubbed writers in one place is enough to make me want to throw in the towel.

Is there room under the desk for me?

Kathy said...

I can understand where you're coming from, SP. I, too, came back from the conference feeling somewhat unworthy and yet... very challenged at the same time.

At the conference, I was both amazed and humbled to stand in the shadow of many stories of success and puzzled by the masses attending the conference who like myself still search for their nitch in the market. It is at once a shock to the system and slightly unnerving to know I float in a sea of hope cresting to make it to shore in one beautiful, foamy wave of success when I see how many other waves are crashing and advancing before and behind.

I'm humbled because my eyes were opened and I learned that I'm not alone. You're not alone. We are all on this journey together. Puzzling, that. Frightening, too. But I've decided you and I need to remember this: We are who we are. Our voice is our own. Our own particular way of looking at the universe is diverse and unique. Our dreams can come true. Our time will come as long as we believe and stay focused.


Maven Linda Howard said...

I used to have the worst post-conference brain fog you can imagine; it would last for about ten days to two weeks. You just can't think! I've actually felt pretty good this time, though, because (A) I was busy, but I didn't try to do everything, and (B) I got more sleep than usual. Sleep is crucial. Remember this, Children!

As far as the lines changing, what an editor says she's looking for, etc., -- that's why I always say not to pay any attention to what's selling now, to pay attention only to the book that's in your head fighting to get out. Listen to your gut. You can't control what goes on in New York, you can only control the quality of what you write. So pay attention to the story that's in your head, to the writing, to letting your characters develop fully so they're real people and not puppets. In your hearts, you all know what you love to read and write -- so do it.

Angel said...

Yes, ma'am.

My newest manuscript is one that I think will fit the line I'm targeting, but it happened to be that way naturally. My previous book, which I pitched for a different line because I thought it no longer fit the guidelines, was actually requested for the line I didn't think it fit. Go figure. So, Maven Linda H., I'm learning this lesson slowly, but surely.

And PM, don't feel like a fraud! Believe in yourself, because whether or not you are writing a book, someone loved your writing enough to pay for it. That's a big deal, and wonderful validation of your abilities! Keep it up. Remember, there are many RWA members who are published by companies not recognized by RWA. That doesn't make them any less published either!


Sheryl M said...

I am not published(unless you count the literary magazine in high school) nor am I currently working on anything. I am however an avid consumer. Yes I love all of the Blaze books, but these are not the only things I buy. If a title and the back cover snag my attention, the book goes into the shopping cart-doesn't matter who publihed it or if it is a NY Times best seller. So reguardless of what "line" you are targeting, just remember there are those of us out there that just want to read so that we may journey to another time or place. Or even just be the heroine of the story. We read because it brings us pleasure and knowledge, not because some editor in an office in a city I have never visited thinks its the next big thing. Said editors are humans too and can make mistakes. Its the wonderful assortment of genres out there that make reading fun. You never know what will happen, if there will be a HEA, or if this one book opens your eyes to a new type of story. Ok my rambling is done for now...go replinish so brain drain doesn't become permanent!