I made a decision today to close my Twitter and HooteSuite tabs (I use both, because I use both 300% magnification for an eye disability so I skim HootSuite to look at writing-related tweets and then read everything else on Twitter.) I have found it basically impossible NOT to check it 10x a day. I haven’t listed anything on Ebay for more than a week, which is my usual downtime activity. But now that I have a May 1 deadline for some Bible curriculum lessons—writing that I actually get paid for, I need to strap in. I’m going to check the feeds just twice a day.
So far, I’ve sent out five agent queries and gotten three rejections. I’ve also just heard from the Dana Awards that my manuscript didn’t make even the honorable mentions. So the honeymoon is over. Not everyone sees how exquisite Shea is. I’m back to “if you’re going to be a writer you have to be able to take rejection and x received 60 thousand rejections before it was finally published blah blah blah” mode. I am being a bit more careful about my querying though. Even though I have a template, I’m not sending out the query e-mails on the same day I write them. I’m let them sit and tweaking at them until I feel good about them.
The first draft of my query today—meaning first draft of my final paragraph, “Why I am sending this query to you, Ms. Agent”—was about our shared enthusiasm for Marilynne Robinson’s 2005 novel Gilead. That novel made me feel really hopeful when I read it (or listened to it, since I can’t read normal size fonts anymore.) It made me realize there is a place, post-Tolstoy, for novels about people of faith. Great novels. It’s sad really, that the term “Christian fiction” immediately brings to mind a genre that is formulaic and trite, when faith should be deep, and awesome and profound. Which, of course, Gilead is.
With this agent, I’ve shared a little more personal information than I usually do—like that I’ve not used the link to the Kirkus Review of Because the Angels with some other agents because it has “an interesting approach to Christianity” in the title. I’ll let the letter sit a couple days and see whether I think it’s still a good idea. Wouldn’t someone who loves Gilead be interested in that? But does she get fifty queries a day from people claiming a Gilead kinship? Aaargh!
The downside of the shared enthusiasm is that you become more emotionally invested. Even though I never met this woman, it means more when someone who loves a book you’ve loved rejects you.
But of course, I have a lot to occupy my time. Six weeks until my sabbatical is over, and I have these thirteen lessons about Jesus’ use of the Hebrew Bible to get done, as well as a bunch of boxes in the hall that I said I was going to go through and get out of the hall before my sabbatical was over.