Saturday, January 16, 2010


Kristen Cashore posted this on her blog first, and I loved it so much that I needed to share my enthusiasm.

The dance starts at around 2:20. The woman is dancing with her fear.

There's something moving about the way that it (ie. he) holds her back and holds her back until she faces it and conquers it. (It even made me download the song and watch other dance clips.)

I think I needed to watch this at this particular moment in my life. I sent out my first query yesterday.

I have made an executive decision not to disclose many details of the process. I have seen much ranting and raving and listing of agent names by other newbie authors, which I choose not to participate in. It's not my style. I would much rather tell you good news than bad.

But I will share this:

Shelby's Rules for Querying Agents
  1. Send no more than one query a day.
  2. Send no more than three queries a week.
  3. If my manuscript gets no bites after ten queries (ie. four weeks), then query letter must be defective and must be revised.
  4. Enter all correspondence in my Query Log.
  5. Do not get my feelings hurt for something as silly as not being a good match for an agent. This is how it works. I want to work with someone who loves my work (and also thinks that I'm hilarious).
Ironically enough, one of my characters (the one that everyone knows is crazy) taught me something. Before my young heroine and her two best buds head out on a quest, my crazy character* says this:
Fear is inevitable. But for every fear that makes you weak, there will be a fear that can make you brave. If you are to succeed, you must discover what you fear more than what you fear the most.
(Please note: This was one of the things that I didn't know was in the story until after I finish the first draft. It turned out to be necessary later when the plot had unfolded and characters were revealed, and so, in the midst of the revision, the crazy lady scene came to me. (I love it when revisions do things like that.))

The parting words of the crazy lady reminded me of a part of this post on Kristen Cashore's blog:
I'm not saying you have to let your manuscript go NOW, or even SOON. I waited until I felt like I was ready; until I was ready to take the risk. I can't say what "ready" feels like -- I expect it feels different for different people -- and it DEFINITELY doesn't feel like success is assured. "Ready" always contains a little bit of "OMG I AM SO NOT READY." But it also contains enough "I am ready" for you to be ready.

Oh, good lord. That paragraph was meant to be helpful, I swear. Here, read this poem by Anaïs Nin:

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom.

Do I feel like I'm ready? No and yes. No - not for adults who are mean-spirited for reasons of their own (although I am sure that I can handle it when the time comes). Yes - for the little girls I know, for the ones who want an adventure story with a heroine every bit as heroic as Harry and Percy. I couldn't stand facing them one day knowing that I didn't do everything I could to bring that story into the world, and I don't want to face myself in the mirror twenty years from now, wondering what if?

Guess what made me much, much braver? Reading the manuscript that I'm using to query - reading it as a reader, not a writer.** I AM funny. I did create characters I <3 like whoa. I did write a story that I'm proud to acknowledge and happy to reread.

Will this keep me from revising in the future? Of course not. Do I think that I've taken the manuscript as far as I can without a second (professional) opinion? Absolutely.

So, despite the fear, I'm in a good place right now. It also helps tremendously that I have a lot to do in the meantime - another manuscript to revise and an IP to finish.

*I love crazy characters. They can say so much more than regular characters. (If you don't believe me, then read Shakespeare.)

**Well, I read slightly as a writer - instead of writing a list of revisions that need to be made, I made a list of questions I had about parts I'm not sure I pulled off. I am my own worst critic.

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