Motivation when the journey sucks ass

So as you can imagine when you first finish a book you’re astounded at your own ability to do so. Not everyone can finish writing a whole novel, that’s tens of thousands of words! It’s an impressive thing and you’re very proud of yourself and you should be! It’s difficult to write an entire book, it takes a long time and it requires prolonged focus and steady work. So, you begin to look up what to do next, how to get a book published. You find out that the first thing to do is to find an agent. So you look up an example of a query letter and write your own. You think that it’s very good (but looking back perhaps it wasn’t so much) and spend hours researching agents and sending queries. And then you wait knowing that soon you will have an agent and your agent will sell your book and you’ll be successful and you can’t wait.

But instead of the praise, you were expecting you get rejections. Standard form rejections that don’t give any particulars about why your manuscript isn’t a good fit or if it’s any good at all. I don’t hold anything against agents for doing form rejections; they get so many queries that I can’t even imagine reading them all let alone giving a personalized response to each. The first rejection hit me hard. I queried a lot of American agents so the emails would mostly come while I slept. I’d wake up in the morning, check my phone and browse through a whole slew of rejections.

This did not help my headspace, which was already not the best at the time.

There’s no advice I can really give about handling rejection because everybody is different. All I can say is that you have to find a way to push through. I know that’s very cliched advice but it’s honestly what you have to do. Try not to dwell and put them out of your mind. I’d advise you keep writing while you’re querying. There’s no reason to stop and hang all your hopes on one book because it might not get picked up. But your next one might be, or the one after that, or the one after that one. The book that got me an agent was my 5th or 6th. It isn’t easy but if you really want it, this could be what is required. It isn’t easy and keeping your spirits up is sometimes a real struggle but sometimes the thing that you badly want is difficult to attain. You have decide, as firmly as you can, and then pursue it.

I also recognize that it’s easy for me to say these things because I write quite fast and typically, when everything is going well, I write a book in about 2 or 3 months. It helps that I don’t have a spouse or children. In fact, I decided not to date or really entertain any kind of romance because I wanted to keep my mental energy for writing. I also recognised that I’d be a shitty person to date because I, and my dreams, were my highest priority - to the exclusion of almost anything else. All of my free time went to writing and I accepted that this is just how it would be for the foreseeable future. I’d spend most of my time inside, alone, on my computer.

Now I’m not saying you should break up with your boyfriend or spouse or neglect your children. But, I do think you to give something up. You have to find the time somewhere and so something has to fall to the wayside. It’s either you can’t watch as much TV or get as much sleep. Look for space knowing that something will have to be sacrificed and accept that is just how it needs to be. This may sound harsh, but feeling sorry for yourself won’t help. That said, I had a good hand full of breakdowns so don’t feel bad if you have a good cry from time to time. Just don’t stay in that place. Let it all out and then reaffirm your resolve.

And when the email you’ve been waiting for finally comes, you’ll be so happy and grateful and relieved that you’ll be smiling for the next few weeks. The sacrifice is worth it if you decide it is. I’m exhausted from almost three years of writing (almost) every day but I’m so excited for the future and it’s all worth it and I have no regrets.