My manuscript, the recently retitled Florence Leary’s Theory of Flight, is getting so polished it’s almost slippery. As per the rules of Pitch Wars, the agent round is still a few weeks away. So’s the time when I’m free to start sending out those query letters.
I’m itching to query. For a writer, querying is the beginning of the long and winding yellow brick road (complete with flying monkeys and memorable characters) to having a book published, ready for purchase at your local bookstore.
Sending out letters to literary agents fills me with so much hope, I nearly start floating and speaking with a helium voice.
(I recognize not everyone can relate to querying, but this feeling of hopefulness can be applied to writing your MCAT or dating or trying to start a family/business/intergalactic dictatorship.)
The only problem is, Hope is a bit of a jerk. Hope is so busy filling our heads with visions of shiny futures and happiness that it forgets to brace us for the inevitable rejections and accompanying pain and humiliation. Hope is only concerned with the wonderful things that could happen. It never prepares us for the worst.
When I was in theatre school, I had to audition once a year (twice a year?) to stay in the program. This sounds like a lot of pressure, but since there had never been a student kicked out of the program for sucking, very few of us put our all into those auditions. We were too busy memorizing lines for productions, keeping up with our classes, and flirting with each other to find the time to rehearse two outstanding monologues. I’m pretty embarrassed about all those auditions. One, in particular, stands out as being a doozy.
In my quest to find two contrasting monologues, I settled on preparing one by Shakespeare. We’re dealing with a limited number of plays and, as a woman, I was dealing with an even more limited number of potential roles. The day before the audition, I found one and memorized it (sort of). Yep. THE DAY BEFORE.
When I got into the room, I flubbed and subsequently ad-libbed the most famous line from the monologue.
Afterwards, I sat down for feedback. One of the professors was laughing so hard at my flub that she actually had to take off her glasses to wipe her tears. Ouch. When she collected herself, she gave me some of the best advice I received during my undergraduate education. She said, “Everyone does that monologue. You can do that monologue too, as long as you do it better than everyone else and bring something new to it.”
Whenever I get impostor syndrome, I think about what she said and convince myself that I can bring something new to my chosen vocation. My hope soars again.
It’s easy to let your hope be deflated by criticism, by rejection, by failure, and by a professor laughing in your face. And hope is a great thing. Hope is what makes us try to do the exciting and scary things that could change our lives.
I’ve written a contemporary YA novel that I’m really proud of. (Cue: Hope!)
So have a bajillion other people. (Cue: Self-Doubt.)
I’ve brought a unique voice to my writing and perhaps put a new chapeau on some familiar themes. (Cue: Hope!)
There’s a good chance this book won’t get me an agent/publishing deal/book sales/fame/fortune/everlasting youth. (Cue: Self-Doubt.)
I could do this all day. Sometimes my inner monologue does, against the will of the rest of me. And that’s okay. Because I’ve discovered the secret to coping with that stupid jerk, Hope, creator of my stupid dreams that could stupidly get crushed.
The secret? TENACITY.
So, Hope, you loveable cad, feel free to stay on my shoulder. As long as your frenemy, Tenacity, stays on my other shoulder, we’re good.