So, my glorious non-existent readership, I have done it. I have queried N number of agents today (where N is any number greater than 1 but still within the realms of taste and decency. Let’s call it three. And you can be Queen of Decency and I will be the Tasteful Prince. Or Lieutenant Consort. Big grand chief poohbah (I still get traffic for that phrase, not entirely sure why)).
I have queried before – I sent a rather desperate letter to PFD in 2001, I think. And in the circumstances (rubbish writing, sans clue) they wrote back very politely, but I haven’t had a finished novel behind it. I haven’t spent weeks agonising over revisions. I haven’t spent a week on the first chapter, re-drafting till I felt an anxiety attack approaching and went for a run instead. I haven’t spent three days writing and re-writing and re-writing and, oh you get the picture, the synopsis (still too long, but I am. Just. Too. Tired. Of. It. All. Now.). I haven’t spent a day agonising over my four /five para query letter. I haven’t….
…changed the title in a last-minute wobble. It’s back to the original title – Tom’s Universe. The Quixote angle was driving me nuts, although I suspect that Tom Quixote will be where it ends up (well, it would be if I could stomach the re-writes).
I even remembered to check the client list of each agent to give them a nudge as to who my writing is absolutely nothing like. Sigh.
In some ways I’ve got the most difficult bit of my writing career out of the way now. I finished the debut, edited it, tried to make it more appealing and I’ve finally put it out there for rejection by the professionals. Because that, statistically, is what’s going to happen. One agent takes on 3 clients a year. Another agency mentioned 6000 queries a year. The maths isn’t hard. And I’m not being down on myself. I like the book. I freaking hate chapter 2. But them’s the breaks. There are some bits that are better than others. My favourite character, should you ever read it, is the nun. I liked her.
And while I’m not ‘free’ of Tom yet – I still have some tinkering to do, after all – assuming that no agent will touch it, that means I can finally write something else. I’ve been writing this sodding book, in one manner or another, for eighteen years. And it’s not an 18 year-wait kind of book. And I’m not an 18-year-wait kind of author. I’m hoping to complete at least two more novels this year. The stories are buzzing, the environment is right.
I just needed to go through the process. And I really do feel like I’ve put myself through the wringer. I’m quite lucky in some respects to write on a computer (that also backs up in umpteen places) or I strongly suspect I’d have burnt the manuscript. In the re-writes for the submission package, I think I wrote 12k words for a 9k segment that I already had. It felt like I was adding more and more colour – and yet it was staying the same resolutely shit brown colour, like there was nothing left I could do.
Just for fun, I held done the ‘Undo’ keys in Scrivener as I replayed the editing I had made to the blurb yesterday. 5 hours of my life replayed in 60 seconds as text marched around the screen for seemingly no purpose. Have you ever seen a speed-painting video? It was like one of them. Soul destroying – to see so much imprecision and uncertainty – to know it’s me.
Anyway. It’s done now. I will never be able to query these specific agents for the first time again. Not unless I invent a time machine. And if I did that, I’d probably spent far too much time trying to work out what colour to paint it.
And I guess I should probably earn some money, seeing as if all does go to plan, I am on the road to being a poor author.
Thank you to everyone who helped along the way. (Yes, I know it’s just the beginning, but it’s the end of the beginning, isn’t it?)