Saturday, June 6, 2015

Adventures in Querying: The Art of Being Patient....Are We There Yet???

I thought when I saw puberty and all its trappings disappear into the rear view mirror of adulthood, I would somehow gain a greater sense of patience and a zen-like ability to wait for the things that truly mattered. As though impulse control increased the older I got. <Queue the maniacal laughter>

Though it is true I have developed a mature approach to a great many segments of life that require my patience:

- waiting in line at the store
- waiting for my refund check to arrive from the tax man
- waiting for a bathroom stall to open up when the Go-Go Bran Muffin cart is handing out free samples at the mall

There are new areas where patience has yet to become a concrete virtue for me in my adult years, however. Waiting for an answer from my query letters is one of them.

It is reminiscent of my childhood vigil for Christmas Day to arrive. Somehow I just knew that each time I looked at the calendar, it would hasten the approach of that magical morning, as though observation changed the outcome of the principles of physics and what we understood of the passage of time. I was light years ahead of Schrodinger and his crazy old cat at the tender age of five. I checked the calendar half a dozen times a day or more starting the day after Thanksgiving. The weird thing was, Christmas never seemed to get there any faster.

Having sent out my first query letters, one would think I would be afraid to look for an answer (since most people tell me I should expect at least a few dozen smacks in the face before I get my first nibble). Yet day after day, I find myself checking my email incessantly looking for the tell tale response from the agents I submitted to. It's almost sad.

I find excuses to hit the send/receive. I need to clean out my inbox (which I hardly ever do.) I need to update my settings (again, a rarity). The list of "valid" reasons is as endless as my childhood energy once was. I know I have weeks to wait, but part of me can't help it. Even if there is a rejection in the missive, I don't want to miss it - not one, single solitary word of it. Why? The answer is quite simple.

It took me years, decades really, to discover what I wanted to do with my life. I was always a writer, scribbling away on sheets of paper at all hours of the day and night when that was the mode of expression. But in the "real world", I pursued other avenues. I studied math and science. I even excelled in those areas. I got my degree in engineering. I have worked for a software company for almost a decade, but in all that time of going to school and studying the hard, challenging topics that everyone said I would fail at, I never felt that burning passion. I just wanted to prove the nay-sayers wrong, and I did. But that isn't the same as finding your one great love.

I have that passion when I write. I feel that burning ember in my breast whenever the ideas begin to flow. I feel the yearning to create drawing me like a lover, ever beckoning, always ready to embrace me. It is my place of ultimate joy. So with each query letter comes that sense of hope and anticipation. Perhaps this time I will receive an answer that will enable me to remain in my lover's arms indefinitely.

Yes, I expect the rejection, but with it comes an opportunity to learn and improve my craft, and I have a choice to pick myself up and try again. If I can weather all those years of study followed by countless years of working in a job that is not my first love, I can navigate my way through a few dozen rejection letters. I am not afraid to "make my bones". I am just a afraid of never trying and giving myself and my writing the chance they deserve. Getting a rejection letter isn't failure. Failure only comes when I throw up my hands and give up on my dreams.

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If you enjoyed this post, don't forget to connect with H.L. Stephens on Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. Also check out H.L. Stephen's mystery series The Chronicles of Mister Marmee. Book 1 - The Case of Jack the Nipper and book 2 - The Case of the Wayward Fae are available in print and eBook format. Coming Soon! Book 3 - The Case of the Monkey's Misfortune.