The link that almost ended it all.

I was putzing on my computer yesterday, following links to various places on various topics, when I came across a quote that made me want to curl up in the bottom of a tequila bottle with the worm.

And, no, I don’t mean that metaphorically.  If I had even a smidgen of an alcoholic tendency within me, I would be too margarita-drunk right now to type straight. 

You may think I’m over-exaggerating (really, though, isn’t exaggerating bad enough?), but I’m not.  After reading what the agent thought was well wishes to aspiring writers, I was  ready to twist up my WIPs and light them on fire.  Followed by my laptop, pencils, notebooks and all my How-To books on writing.  Done.  Finished.  The End.

Are you ready for the magical sentence of doom?

If you are a terrific writer with solid credentials, finding an agent will be straight-forward and fairly easy.


Define terrific.  What exactly constitutes “solid” credentials?  Straight-forward?  Easy? 

The only word in the whole sentence that made sense was fairly.  As in so-so.  Not horrible, but not great.  Better than average, maybe. 

Not too long ago, a writer friend of mine said enough.  It’s too hard.  I’m not good enough.  I’m done wasting my time. 

These are words that most aspiring writers I know have said at one time or another.  Some actually pack up their writing utensils and pick up another hobby.  Others take long breaks–decades even–before scratching out a few more words in hopes of one day finding their by line on a book jacket.  And some really do give in and give up on their dreams.

How long is too long to peddle a crappy manuscript?  How soon is too soon to quit in this fairly easy process?  Oh great cosmic agent of writerly love, wherefor art thou answers? 

These questions and more were posed during an AQ chat last night. 

How about you, oh writer friends, have you ever given up?  For how long?  Have you watched your writing buddies throw in the towel and end it all?  How do you keep from letting a simple sentence crush your dreams?  When do you admit defeat on one manuscript and move on to the next?

And as an aside, fairly easy is how I describe painting my toe nails, not the agent-finding process.  With the industry odds stated somewhere around a 2% rep rate, a whole lotta people better start writing really badly to make it fairly easy for us folks who refuse to give up!

Have a great day!


12 responses to “The link that almost ended it all.

  1. I messed around with the agent-hunting exercise for a few months around 2004-2005, then went with a medium-sized publisher that markets mostly to libraries (Five Star) and takes unagented submissions for mystery/suspense and for romance/women’s fiction. That led to a Books in Motion audiobook and Harlequin Worldwide Mystery book club mass market paperbacks.

    Now I have a couple more manuscripts almost ready and I feel as though I’m starting all over (because now I’m writing in new genres).

    I’m trying to decide how much time to spend on that agent hunt again. At least now I have a couple of published books, a lot of promotional experience, and an internet presence. I’m hoping that will help, but there are no guarantees. I suspect I’ll be staring at rejection letters again just like in 2004.

    • Patricia,

      If you haven’t done so, read Maralys Wills’ damn the rejections. She genre hopped and provides some pretty outstanding advice on the subject.

      There are so many different thoughts on the agent/editor thing. But, like you said, you already have your ruby red slipper in the door! That should help a little.

  2. The credentials part is the hard one for me.

    Well, everyone has to start somewhere.

    Of course you could rewrite the sentence as
    “A pitcher with a 96-mph fastball and command of the curve will find his path to the Majors straight-forward and fairly easy.”

    So don’t worry about it. Just focus on improving your craft.

    • Love the baseball analogy. But, the pitch can be measured, while “terrific” falls in the highly subjective category.

      I guess that’s why there are so many different agents.

  3. Now that’s depressing. I’ve seen a lot of strong writers battle rejection after rejection. I’m not quite that far along yet, but it can be very frightening and depressing if I look too far ahead. So I try to just ignore it all and do the next thing 🙂

    • Jemi,

      You are a strong writer and I have no doubt that when the time comes you will succeed. I think the most frightening thing is not knowing. Not knowing how good you are/aren’t. Not knowing when to quit/persevere. That’s what scares me. I don’t want to waste my life working toward something I may not even have talent in. Yet I don’t want to quit in case I do.


  4. Groan! I can’t believe that sentence. I didn’t write for many, many years. I just thought I wasn’t going to get anywhere with it and that I had to ‘grow-up and be responsible, hold down a job’. Blah, blah, blah. I also kept remembering my mother saying to me (probably on a day I was driving her crazy) that “being a writer is a good way to starve to death”. Not exactly uplifting words.
    I was a long way from me and working my way back after my divorce. I thought, why can’t I write and hold down a job too. I can do this! Hell yeah, I even WANT to do this. Now everyone is encouraging with their words and I know I’m writing for me and if I do see my dream of being published, all the better.

    • Lisa, what a great attitude. You are so inspirational in your enthusiasm and encouragement. You are also a talented writer. Those things go a long way in seeing your dreams come true.

  5. I love Andrew’s baseball analogy! Good one!

    How long do I give a piece? I have stuff in my drawers from ten years ago that I’ve never submitted, and things from last year that I submitted a few times, denied, went on to the next handful of stories.

    I write. If that doesn’t sell, I write more. If and when I land a full-length deal, I’ll have a body of work already prepared for soon-to-be-released novels.

    I’m a publisher’s dream! 😉

    For the pitcher analogy, I’d be the guy who loved to throw the ball, threw it for the dog, for the kids, threw it against the wall and in the air, been throwing it since he was a kid for anyone who’d play catch and could stand their hand burning from the screaming impact.

    Throw throw throw!

    Because it’s the throwing I’m in love with, not the pitcher’s mound.

    – Eric

    • Eric,

      That was extremely profound and inspiring. I love it. I’m just afraid I’m more selfish than that. I want my words in the hands of young people across the nation. Not that I don’t love writing for writing’s sake. I’m addicted to it.

      I also love your comment on being a publisher’s dream. I, too, have my share of manuscripts waiting for their day to see the bright lights of a book store! Now where are those darn agents?

      • Hey, I never said publishing wasn’t important or that I didn’t want to be published.

        I just have a weird view of the world.

        One day I’m discussing my failed marriage with this guy at work, telling him how hard I tried

        He shook his head and said, “Dude, marriage ain’t no work at all, shouldn’t be, anyways. I been with my girl going on ten years and I still smile every time I see her. Being with her’s easy as breathing. Them people say marriage is work are married to the wrong woman.”

        And that’s how I view writing, and in fact, how I view life in general. Hard work can be rewarding, sure, but if you’re trying hard to get someone else to do something for you, that’s wasted energy.

        So I decided to try with this writing gig, maybe get published, but I sure as heck didn’t beg anyone to take my work, or buy my books, or read my material.

        I went for the easy kills, nothing more, and I didn’t cry when one got away. No big deal.

        A publisher found me and I found him. He’s small. I’m small. We’re both in Dallas. We both love dark beer, are divorced, re-unmarried with new partners, kicking in 40’s door.

        It’s been ~easy~ working with him, see, no work at all. He’s already asked me to lead a writing project for him, published two of my shorts, and is reviewing two of my novels.

        The other publishers were too much work. It wasn’t right, see.

        Anyway. Don’t get discouraged. Look for the ~fit~ and enjoy the process. Better to have a drawer full of unpublished masterpieces than a bookshelf full of published rubbish.

        – Eric

      • LOL! Great advice.

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