If you haven't read this post and this over on Michelle Wolfson's lit agent blog, you should. They're super enlightening. Those two posts made me realize something: I think I'm rare among writers, and I'm not quite sure if it's in a good way.
In the first post, Ms. Wolfson talks about the number of people who don't send in pages after getting requests from agents. (I've heard Sara Megibow talk about this same thing on her twitter feed too, so it's not just one agent this happens too.) When I first heard that there were authors who didn't send in requested pages it really did shock me. Perhaps because I have some misconceptions about my fellow writers? That when you're querying/pitching you're very serious about publishing at that point? That it's such an honor to have an agent think enough of your query letter or first chapter to want to read more so why wouldn't you send in the requested pages?
Then, in the second post Ms. Wolfson made some well-deserved points about jumping on writers who don't (see the comments on the first.) I admit it. I did. I think I wrote, "I'd be glad to fill in for those 50% of crazies." Because I would. Really. Especially since Ms. Wolfson is closed to unsolicited queries right now. She wrote that all writers get insecure about their writing . . . AGREED. And all writers feel their heart drop through their stomach right before a pitch or when they actually get a request . . . AGREED. That they've all not sent in pages, or cancelled on a pitch, or whatever because they're scared of how their work will be perceived . . . Wait. We have?
Now this is where I seriously questioned myself: am I over-confident? I thought I was right there with my peers. I'm fairly certain that most of my stuff sucks, especially at the first draft. Even into the tenth draft. I know I'm never going to grip an audience like Suzanne Collins or sell a million-and-a-half copies like Stephanie Meyer. But when I've polished and shined it up to the best it can be, and when I've queried/pitched and an agent or editor actually said, "I want to read more," I sent it! I sent it with a smile on my face and, yeah, still cringing because they're probably not going to like this, or that might not catch their interest. But I sent it.
I know. Pitching especially is rough. I paced a hole into the floor the two times I've done it so far. I thought I might spontaneously combust from fear of what might happen in that room. The night before I refused to go talk to one of the agents because she was wearing fantastic boots and looked too chic for me. But I went to my pitches. I got requests. I sent in the pages feeling ecstatic and dreadful at the same time. That's what I thought being insecure as a writer was about.
I had to get these thoughts out. I've been thinking about it for two days straight. I have to know. Am I alone?
And comment below!
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I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.