Monday, 12 December 2011

Query letters

The only thundercloud that masks the sunshine and light of writing a novel is the bit when you actually begin to make marks on the page. The conclusion may therefore be drawn that the sunshine and light part is the thinking about writing a novel - the research and sketching of a tetchy skeleton idea. The rest of it sends your stomach into plunging knots, your hopes on a roller-coaster ride, and your clutching, grasping fingers to the nearest biscuit barrel, or coffee-jar. Or alcoholic beverage.

Yes, I’m writing a query letter. (Again, she whispers. The other one didn’t count.)

Now, my problem is this: I had a query letter. The two paragraphs in it that described my novel worked really well. They won a prize. People liked it. Everything in query letter world was massively happy. Apart from...

... the novel rewrite has meant my paragraphs are redundant. They are now ex-paragraphs. Oh, they work at a push, and I’m sure if agent folk read them and thought hm! (in a happy hm! sort of way) that they would then go on to read the synopsis and chapters and probably think even more happy hm! type thoughts. But they might not. They might instead think 'why doesn’t that synopsis quite match the query letter?' Most terrifyingly they might think 'do I want to work with an author that doesn’t spot her query and novel don’t quite match?' My inner editor is cringing as it knows I should rewrite the golden paragraphs to make them fit. But I don’t wanna! I just don’t. I’d rather lick the road. (In fact, we have been through this horror list before.)

Even worse than rewriting those two paragraphs is re-doing the paragraph writing about me. Me on me – now you’d think, surely, that I could do that one, and be convincing about it. If anyone knows me, it’d be...well... me. But because query letters are so butt-achingly important my fingers seem to jam up on the keyboard. Remember the glorious mess you could get into with typewriters when you banged all the keys at once and everything jammed? Yes, exactly that. I feel like I am constantly reaching for mental Tippex (and the delete button).

The annoying thing is I know I can do this. I know that agents will like to work with me, if we ever get that far. But until I can un-jam my fingers it’s just not going to happen. I did hear a rumour that cupcakes do wonders for unjamming, so am off to find a few at lunch-time to eat after dinner and then we’ll see what happens. But since the next chance I’ll have to think about query letters, novel, and my life in general is a whole eight hours away (yay, full-time work, she says weakly) then perhaps a miracle will happen in-between times and it'll work itself out. Or, maybe and more likely, this evening I’ll sit at the computer with my brain lolling in my lap and only have the nodes connected enough to think ‘must find 80s music on YouTube’. Sadly, that is how some evenings roll. It is too early as yet to tell which way this Monday will jump.


Vikki said...

lady, if you don't rewrite this query then dream life (in which you and I skype each other during the day to talk writing rather than sitting in our respective offices/9-5's) is never gonna happen! Those previous novel paragraphs were gold but you gotta move on up/out and write some more, because this novel deserves that from you doesn't it? I'd recommend 5 mins writing at a time & keep on going back to it. You'll have it done in no time :). Motivational pep talk over, good luck! Vikki x

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Pretend you are writing the letter to your friend Vikki, just telling her what your fabulous story is about! It takes the pressure off! Best of luck!

Old Kitty said...

Awww Jayne! I hope you find totally yummy cupcakes and to die for New Romantics on youtube! Sigh!

Am sending you tons of "unjam those fingers" happy thoughts over the ether!! You can do this, yes you can! :-) Take care

Sarah said...

You will be so proud of yourself once you push through this mental wall! DO IT!!

Shirley Wells said...

Cupcakes will work. Guaranteed!

You know you have to rewrite the query, don't you? Yes, you do. You might not want to, but you have to. I hope that, after a day at the office, and cupcakes, you return to it and see immediately what's needed to make it the best query letter ever.

Good luck!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

You can do this.
You'll just have to wait till the muse plops down upon your shoulder. She will. You know she will.
And yes, I have no doubt cupcakes will help.
But only if they're chocolate.

Eliza said...

You'll do it in the end. The odd cup cake will help.

catdownunder said...

After what happened to me today all I can say is "hugs".

Maggie May said...

Theres far more to this book writing than meets the eye, isn't there?
I'm sure you will win through. You seem to have the staying power that is required....... unlike me.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Sienna North said...

I'm sure it'll be much easier once you get started. For me, at any rate, the hardest part in doing something that needs to be done is the first five to ten minutes of it. If I set aside time and stick to it and don't give up, it'll all pull together in the end. Somehow.

L.A Speedwing said...

Jayne, Ive been there. You're building too much pressure on yourself. You know this matters like hell to you so that's why you are stuck.
First of all, try to change your mind set. This book matters but writing matters more. If this doesn't work, and you will keep on writing.
Second of all, ask for external help, a fresh pair of eyes on that query letter. You might blow it out of proportion (because you might be a perfectionist) and your current query letter might be actually very good.
Third of all, remind yourself that you are only human. You are doing your best with what you've been given and that's all you can do.
I hope this helps.

Ruby Claire said...

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Dolly said...

Oh dear dear Jayne. I hope your fingers have unjammed by now and you are well into finishing this task.

I get this feeling with new art projects, the dreams and images are there aplenty in my head...but when it comes to picking up a pencil and making that first mark on a blank sheet of paper....well even the hoovering is a welcome distraction!

I think I will pour a nice glass of red to give me some inspiration, and toast to you as I do so. Until we meet again for a bottle or two LOL X

Friko said...

I've joined your lovely folk to see if you can teach me anything about writing.

If you can, could you leave out the hard bits? Only the easy bits - like how to become rich and famous overnight without any effort - would be useful.

My writing is hard enough without getting other people's writing problems shoved at me.

authorsoundsbetterthanwriter said...

Good luck with writing the query letter. If its any help, I know at least one agent who will still read the first chapter of everything that comes in, regardless of the query. I'm sure she's not the only one.

Happy Frog and I said...

I know you can do it in fact it is probably already put to bed. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you Jayne. x

Rose said...

I think it will happen but I know it's easy to say when it isn't you! I need to e-mail you about my reading- I've been so so busy with work it's ridiculous- also would be good to do something in the new year- hope you're having a good Christmas

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Hello, Jayne, I am sorry you are agonizing over query letters, but just have to say, your post was so humorous that had to remind myself that I should be commiserating instead of laughing.

Seriously. You will get through this. I say it from experience. I dawdled and dawdled, just dreading the process, and then when my dawdling had run its course, I sat down and knocked some out -- good ones -- and thought, "Why did I dread this so much?" You will do the same, I am positive.

BTW, I left an award for you on my blog. Stop by and pick it up (and pass it on.)