I’m having a tough time writing this post because I don’t want to say the words aloud. After nine months querying The Trouble with Twenty-Two, I think it’s time to set my project aside.
I know– I’ve spent two and a half years writing and revising this novel, and I still believe my story is special and worthy of publication. But though I’ve gotten close to landing an agent, it hasn’t happened yet. I think I’ll be better off focusing my efforts on my second novel rather than continuing to query the first. I’m grateful for the partial and full requests I received, along with agent feedback which helped me improve my manuscript. I refuse to think of my novel as a wasted effort.
And I’m not calling it a ‘drawer novel’ either. One way or another, I believe it will eventually find a home. This could be through a small press, or maybe in the future I’ll want to explore the option of self publishing. But right now, that isn’t my goal. Traditional publication is still my main objective, no matter how difficult it will be to achieve. I’ve had my fair share of tears with every setback on this journey, but I’ve got to keep trying. One New York agent wrote me, “You are a lovely writer and this is a polished and accessible read and I don’t doubt there is an audience for this book.”
I’m sure many of us writers have received similar praise, without an offer of representation. But that’s okay, it shows us we’ve taken a step in the right direction. Earlier drafts of my novel didn’t get personalized rejection letters. Through multiple revisions, I took a rough story and polished it into something I’m proud of.
Now it’s time to set that story aside, take everything I’ve learned and apply my knowledge to book number two. Some things I loved about my first novel made it a tough sell. I won’t have two narrators this time, or an international setting (which is sad, because I’m a complete europhile). But, I will have a strong character arc, a tight plot and a more commercial story line.
And I stumbled across this post by Shannon Messenger at just the right time. She talks about how to know when your project is “the one.” Shannon writes, “ So if the project you’re working on is the very first thing you’ve ever written–EVER? There’s a really good chance it’s not, “the one.” AND THAT IS NOT MEANT TO BE DISCOURAGING. No writing is ever wasted. You never know what you might do with it. “
I feel like that’s where I am now. And as the wonderful Tahereh Mafi writes:
“you can’t be afraid of your own creative efforts. don’t fear failure. don’t be afraid of being the person who needed to write a ton of crappy manuscripts and had to burn through a few agents before landing a book deal. because i’m going to tell you a secret? regardless of how it might seem in and around the blogging world and twitterfeeds and facebook posts and the ever-lovely publishers marketplace, the majority of us (read: the vast, vast majority of us) did not sell the very first thing our eager fingers ever created. many of us had to write not 1, but 2, 3, 15 manuscripts before figuring out what worked. a debut novel just means it’s the first novel an author has ever published – not the first they’ve ever written.”
So with that quote, I’m going to suck it up and get to work on my second project. Because maybe this time it will be “the one” after all.