Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Give yourself permission...

...to push back self imposed deadlines.

Today was the day. I promised myself I would send off the first five query letters and start my search for an agent. Monday I was on track to meet this goal. However, Tuesday derailed me.

Two lovely people emailed me critiques of my query, synopsis, and first 10 pages. I hope they don't mind if I mention them here. CD Coffelt looked at the query and synopsis, and Beth Revis looked at my query and first 10 pages. They must have felt my desperation at not having a formal critique group and took pity on me. [I need to mention that Mia has read my entire manuscript and given excellent feedback, and Christi also critiqued my query and synopsis for me. *waves* You guys are awesome!]

Their feedback was honest and there were enough things brought up that I decided to wait for this initial round of queries. I knew there were things not quite perfect, but  I'm good at justifying all my choices. Really good at it. Plus, I had worked so long on Sendek that I was tired. I wanted to move on and forget about it. At the same time, I grew afraid that if I didn't take the plunge now and send queries, I would talk myself out of it. So, I pushed forward knowing I needed to resolve certain issues.

This is what I've learned out of the experience:
  • Don't give up on finding another writer willing to look at your work and give an honest critique. 
  • Be willing to change your plans if it will make you a better writer and increase your chances of hooking that agent.
  • There are really great people out their willing to take time out of their busy days to help a total stranger. Isn't that awesome! Now, I'm even more committed to helping when I can, because their advice may have saved me a lot of trouble.
  • If you have doubts about a chapter, there are reasons. Don't ignore them, or push them under the bed. They don't like it down there and they'll eventually crawl out and derail all your nice plans. 
  • Justification or the excuse of "complicated plot" are simply ways to be lazy. Lazy writers don't get agents. So, suck it up and get back to work. 
 I'm not pushing my deadline back too far. One week. In one week I need to have my stronger, more gripping beginning to this novel that has taken over my life. The good news? After moaning half the day yesterday, I came up with a plan, and it might actually work. Also, I now have some darlings to kill, which means I can post them on here. Right?

I'm envisioning that tab on my professional web page marked "deleted scenes".

Do you feel like you're rushing forward or dragging your feet? 

When was the last time you reevaluated your plan?

    11 comments:

    1. I feel like I drag my feet. Editing is extremely difficult and when you don't have a crit partner or have one who just doesn't have the time right now, well, it is easy to push aside your work and move on to something else...when really you should take the revisions like a big girl and be done with it. I need to edit, but I want to start something new. Bleh...I'm so lazy.

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    2. I'm also getting ready to send out the first round of queries for a romantic suspense. I'm waiting for feedback back on my query letter, too. Re-evaluating goals is necessary sometimes and you're being honest with yourself. I think that's great. Good luck this week.

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    3. This is such a great post. Sometimes, deadlines are an excuse... an excuse for not doing what you don't want to do (like make edits you know are necessary). You are so right to rethink things and push back when you know it is the best thing for your writing.

      Good luck!

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    4. I'm doing both. I want to run forward, but I feel like I'm dragging my feet. I totally need to fix that.

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    5. I've pushed my deadline back so many times, I've lost count. It doesn't bother me because I know the writing will be better because of it.

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    6. Sherrinda, I'm learning there is a fine line between lazy and taking a break to regroup. July and August I worked on something new. It was wonderful, but then the voices stopped and I was stuck. Turns out Talia had Landry tie them up until I finish her story the right way. :)

      Karyn, it took a while before the honesty thing hit. I seriously moped half the day and made excuses. Good luck with your querying!

      Jenna, I totally used the deadline as an excuse. I even though, "well this is the set to feel things out." Funny how we come up with more work to avoid the work we need to accomplish first.

      Carolyn, both! Yeah, I think we've all had times like that. Good luck finding the motivation again.

      Susan, I'm scared to push it back too many times, but this doesn't worry me either. Like you said, sometimes it is for the best of the writing and will be worth it in the end.

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    7. Querying too soon is a huge danger, so I'd caution against zapping your baby out there until you've fixed what needs to be fixed AND gotten the green light on that revision from more readers.

      This may sound crazy, but I'm revising my first ten pages again, even though I have a partial and a full out with agents. Why? They bit on the query alone. Those I sent a query plus ten pages sent rejections. The next batch I want to query want pages and I now know I have a weak scene to fix first. Darned tootin', I'm sending no more queries till have these revised pages re-critiqued.

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    8. I re-evaluate daily, often multiple times per day.

      It's the only way I can stay sane. I set mini-deadlines and mini-goals and try to reach them.

      For instance, instead of saying I want to lose 5 lbs (which I do), or say that I want to lose 2 lbs per week (which I do), I'll say that I want to lose 6 oz per day (which is much easier to attain).

      Then, if I miss a daily goal, I have the next day's goal to get me back on track.

      For writing, my goal is one word. One paragraph. One page. One chapter. One section. One half. One book.

      In that order.

      - Eric

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    9. I feel like I'm dragging, but then, I'm focusing on my upcoming book more than my current project.

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    10. I think I do a little of both. I was moving things too fast because I want to get to that query stage. But I had to change my goals because I hadn't even considered other people reading the novel first, since I no longer had my critique group. Now, I pick goals each month and if I don't make them, I know I can adjust the goals to keep going.

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    11. I'm hoping to get some queries out in another month. I'm lucky enough to have three betas lined up, but I'm definitely going to give them time to submit comments and give myself time to make any changes.

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