I’m Bogged and I Know It

It’s hard to live in a place where you know you’re failing.

When I first started writing, all my writing teachers gushed over my work. Rare voice, they said. True gift, they opined. Literary journals I admired–like the Chicago Review—sent me notes saying, we’re not taking this piece but we know we’re going to be reading about you in the future. At writing conferences, the other participants sidled up to me and said, “I liked your story the best.” When I got to the submitting stage, the first story I sent into a contest won an Honorable Mention . . . and $500.

I knew I was winning.

Now I know I’m failing.

I can look at what I’m writing and see the problems. I can hear the voices offering advice, yet I can’t fix what needs fixing. I can easily recognize the good writing of others, but I’m unable to get mine in the same shape.

I’m bogged down, and I know it.

Funny thing, my writing is better than it was when I knew I was winning. It’s better even than it was last week—each awful query letter I write is an improvement over the last terrible query letter I wrote.

I believe I have finally hit the proverbial wall. The “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” wall. The “writers who succeed aren’t the best writers; they’re the ones who keep writing” wall. The place where I need to hear and absorb what one of the Door of Hope writers told me: “We’re all famous; they just don’t know it yet.”

Time-out for “woo-woo” truth:
A couple of weeks ago when I lay in bed with my mind rumbling over the Train Trip manuscript, a voice came into my head as loud and clear as a ringing bell: that manuscript’s already sold—move on.

How is it sold? I don’t have an agent. I don’t have any outstanding submissions to a publisher. So tell me—how is it sold?

I don’t know, but I think it’s sold because I WILL wrestle this query letter to the ground. I WILL send out a fab letter that will garner all kinds of requests for fulls. I WILL get an agent who WILL sell the manuscript to a house I love.

Yes, I’m failing at this particular moment, a moment that is going on WAY too long for my taste, but which is only a moment in a long journey. In the long view—one I’ve held since the day I first put my foot onto this circuitous path—I will get there. I will make it. I am improving. I am winning.

Thanks for joining me on the journey.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

getting an agent, the agony of query letters, writing advice, writing pep-talk, writing the perfect query letter, writing when you feel defeated

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