Thursday, March 14, 2013

March Madness Check-in Day 14 — Are you a Control Freak?

A huge congratulations to our fearless leader Denise Jaden on her fabulous triumvirate! Read all about it and don't forget to check in at her blog tomorrow for more madness!

And another winner for some March Madness Swag:

Melissa Grey
Go to the Prize Post to select your prize from that fabulous list of goodies and email Denise at  d(at)denisejaden(dot)com with your choice. Keep rocking the madness!


Speaking of madness, this business is a tough place for those who like to be in control of their own destiny. To carry the Back to the Future metaphor a little further, I feel like George McFly sometimes, waiting for something to come to me and always questioning whether I'm worthy of it. Do I have the guts to get out there and claim my "density?"

I guess I do have the guts, since I'm on my 4th novel and I've survived the Everest of rejection that is my filing cabinet. But how do you handle that unbearable anticipation? What do you do with the emotion once you have subbed your baby to an agent or editor or even your crit partners?

Many of you have already described what you DO with your time while you are waiting, like working on a new project, cleaning the house, digging a ditch to bury the bodies in... (ahem, that's just me). But what is your emotional journey really like? Can you pack it away in a drawer and forget about it until it comes and finds you?

I obsess. Can you imagine? Me? No! Yes...

Once that baby leaves my outbox, the clock in my head starts ticking like a rabid beetle. My mind wanders between delusions of grand success and visions of abject failure. I see the book deals racking up on PubLunch and note that not one of them is mine. I feel the walls closing in as if I will smother from lack of oxygen that can come only from a response, no matter what the news.

I can be in the middle of a project or working my day job and suddenly my stomach tightens around those spastic little butterflies and I hear the ticking again just because a random thought about my submission crept into my consciousness. It takes huge restraint not to air my blow-by-blow lament on social media or compose raving emails to any possible target. At least the mailman is safe from that potential retribution.

Of course, waiting is only one part of the control issue. One of these days, I'll meet my "density" and then I'll have to battle for control with an editor, a marketing department, and who knows what else. But you know what? I can handle that...





47 comments:

  1. If I stay busy enough, I don't think about it too much. It's those down times (brushing teeth, falling asleep) where my mind starts to wander and ponder with all those "what ifs."

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    1. LOL, Jennifer! Yes, I'm thinking about it when I brush my teeth, too! And twitter has seen my everlasting insomniac tweets! And of course, all those fabulous "what ifs" are what get us writing in the first place...

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  2. Ah, the madness. I wish I had an answer. Sure there are things that help, but it seems to me that submission hell is just inevitable. So I'm avoiding it. I'm enjoying this time of peace. I am relaxed and am enjoying my work. ^_^

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    1. Ah, to live vicariously through you, Angelina... Enjoy! :-)

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    2. I'm glad I'm not the only one who employs the avoidance mechanism! LOL!

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  3. Thanks for your honesty in describing your journey, Mary Ann. I'm totally with you. (And I just sent out an uber important revision yesterday, so I'm really in it right now). I totally obsess and imagine and ride a wild roller coaster of extreme hope and even more extreme despair. I think our ability to feel things so deeply and immediately is good for our writing, but it may not feel awesome most of the time.

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  4. Oh, I totally agree with Jennifer! I kinda hate those "what ifs," so I try to avoid them.

    But I totally know what you mean about those thoughts popping up whether we want them or not when it comes time to submit. I'm on my sixth book now, and like all the others before it, I'm hoping it's The One. Maybe the sixth time's the charm. I hope the fourth time is for you! :-)

    Oh! Btw, in good news, I finished my revision yesterday! So I'm now tweaking the synopsis and plan on doing a final read-through tomorrow before sending to betas. As always, thanks so much to the whole #wipmadness crew for keeping me motivated!

    Kip

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    1. Congrats, Kip!!! That's a huge accomplishment!

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    2. YAY! Go, Kip, Go! I totally know that "This is the one" vibe. Maybe if we all send out that vibe, it will com true! ;-)

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  5. I totally can relate with this post. Even though I've had 2 and soon to be 3 books published with small press publishers, I still want to get an agent and one of those 'bigger' houses. It's so scary to have something out there and then to rack up yet more rejections. I don't subscribe to PW anymore because it was just too depressing. I used to have a place in my writing loft where I'd mark off the rejections and 'maybes'. That got way too depressing too.

    Waiting does suck. But I'm like you and know I'll meet my 'destiny'. Right now though I need to not be so down on myself or compare myself to others. And that is really hard to do.

    I try to take a walk, read a book, or go out to get my mind of waiting. Now I just need to finish this revision so I can...yes, send it out there again!

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    1. I hear ya, Kim! I just need to funnel those emotions in a new direction, use them in my writing. Not as a distraction, but as a productive re-direction of my immense emotional knowledge!

      Kick that revision's ass, girl!

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  7. I hate to say it, Mary Ann, because this won't help you TODAY, but the more time that passes, the easier it gets. The first week of being on submission, or with an agent, or with a beta reader or critique partner, it's killer. I try to sink myself into something else, but let's be honest, nothing can truly take my attention, no matter how many times I tell myself I WILL NOT HEAR BACK IN THE FIRST WEEK. Usually after a month or two my thoughts seem to willingly return to other things in my life. By the six month mark (yes, SIX months) thankfully, I rarely think about whatever book is out there now. It's old in my mind, and whatever I'm working on usually feels much more exciting, since I haven't looked at the other one in so long. That's my very unhelpful thoughts on the subject. LOL.

    As for progress...it's slow. I want to finish this book that I started March 1st, but I now have a deadline for the new book I just sold. The deadline is not until June 1st, but I get kind of wonky when it comes to deadlines. I think I may have to revise my original goal and work on the deadline project first, because otherwise it will keep nagging away at me. I don't know. I'm feeling torn today...

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    1. Thanks, Denise. I've played the waiting game before, but it doesn't change much. I still obsess. I need to give myself more deadlines, I think. Good luck with yours, and congratulations again!

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  8. This is a really good point - everyone has advice on what to do with your time (start a new project! Keep busy!) but what do you do with your feelings? I'm on submission with publishers for one book and the wait (as well as the rejections) is killing me reeeeaaallly slowly. Now that I'm finishing the book that was the new project the whole cycle will start again with a new book on submission and me riding the roller coaster. Because that's the part that I'm not in control of, it can drive me crazy. So here's what I do. I imagine the worst. For me, the worst is never getting published. Having to tell people that yes, I worked hard, but it didn't happen. Having to explain to my daughter why she doesn't see my book in the bookstore. It may sound like a negative exercise, but for me it isn't. if THAT's the worst that can happen, I can handle that. Emotionally, being aware of 'the worst' is like a shield against it. If I can imagine the worst, I can survive it.

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    1. We must be cut from the same cloth, Alex! I'm very good at imagining the worst. I can distract myself with work and all that jazz, but just as you said, it's the emotions, that twisting in my guts that is so hard. My head is fine! Hang in there and we'll work those emotions into our masterpieces together!

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    2. I do this too! I hate it sometimes but it keeps me sane... well mostly sane.

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  9. A long time ago an experienced and much published writer gave me golden advice: do not *wait* the way *the girl waits for the boy* in nineteen century novels. When it comes to subbing, it took me a while to reach this mode. But I am there, baby.

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  10. I've only ever experienced the particular anguish of waiting for to hear back from Lit mags about short stories, since I've never been happy enough with a longer manuscript to actually send it anywhere. I feel so anxious every time i hit send on another email destined for a slushpile. While they're my hard drive, the stories are safe within my reach. Who knows what calamities might befall them out there in the great wide world? I've only got one story out right now, and I'm trying spend all my energy on my WIPs so I don't have to think about it

    On the plus side, so much time passes before I hear anything back about a submission that I'm able to cultivate a little emotion distance between myself and my baby--I mean my story.

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    1. I have awaited word from magazines as well, Kim, and it is just as tense as waiting for a publisher or an agent to get back to you. Amen to some emotional distance! I have also found that with that distance often comes new perspective, too. And that makes for good revisions!

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    2. Definitely! Sometimes even just the weekend is long enough to get me in a chopping mood! Thanks for hosting today, and thanks for getting rid of my accidental repeat comments!

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  12. Hey, my comment disappeared! Thank you for your honesty. I am right there with you, especially since I just sent revisions off yesterday. It's a wild roller coaster between extreme hope and even more extreme despair around here. I think, as writers and artists, our emotional natures are good for our writing. But they can feel pretty terrible sometimes.

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    1. LOL, Joy! It was my big fingers on my tiny iPhone that deep-sixed your comment by mistake last week. Not this time though! Hope and Despair...I might have to name my next two pets after this crazy ride. You are so right about what sucks the life out of us at times is what gives so much to our writing. Strap yourself in and hang on...!

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  13. My earliest waiting experiences weren't too bad... rejections, yes, but prompt and nicely worded. I should have been encouraged to keep sending submissions out, but gradually I've pulled back, not happy enough with the revisions of my current works to "chance it" quite yet. I don't see it as a control thing, but more of a protection mechanism. If I don't submit, I don't have to deal with what might possibly come next. I can just stay in my cocoon and keep writing, which is the part I most enjoy.

    No great progress toward my goals again today, but I've worked on some genealogy information while enjoying some precious time with a daughter and granddaughters who are visiting from out of town for a week. That's always time well spent. :)

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    1. Absolutely time well spent, Carol! Enjoy it!

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  14. Wow, my post hasn't showed up yet?

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  15. Remember that Patrick Stewart session I went to a week and a half ago? He said something so very worth remembering. He said that whenever he auditions, he forgets about it, because the likelihood of getting that part is so low. (At least, this was true back before he was super famous!) This will probably be a topic for one of my check-in posts later this month, but as he said it, I couldn't help but think of how it applied to submissions for writers. Definitely an attitude worth consideration!

    Checking in now because tonight I'll be at a hockey game and won't be able to get much work done. The revisions I've done so far are in my critique partner's hands (because she wanted me to cut a major section and I agreed and she didn't want to give me more feedback until that business was taken care of). I'm rewarding myself with reading and working on a writing project not related to my madness goals. I feel so good about everything because it's out of my hands for a little while. And getting back into my NaNo (the other writing project) has been loads of fun, too. :)

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    1. Oh, I envy you that kind of freedom. My brain just won't let me let it go that easily...or maybe it's my heart. But I think it's mostly the perfectionist in me...still editing even though the ms is in someone else's hands...

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  16. I guess my particular brand of avoidance is to NOT finish a project, so it doesn't have to face the "cold cruel world." Pathetic - believe me, I know. The WIP I'm drafting away on now is going to see the light of day, regardless of the pain. Otherwise, I might as well embrace another stupid desk job. No thank you!

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    1. Awwww...I soooo understand that feeling! We'll all be here to hold your hand or feed you liquor when you launch this one out into the world!

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  17. I've been avoiding putting away my hard copy of the spec script that I sent off for a writing fellowship, because I know once I do, I'll glance through it and start second guessing myself even more.

    I have a long wait till I hear anything - the end of August, so I keep telling myself just to start working on the next thing or things.

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  18. Congrats, Melissa!



    Though, I've only submitted shorter pieces, so far, I understand the anxiety you have once the words have left your possession. The clock ticks louder, more pronounced, as though Life is trying to test your sanity while you wait for the call or email. Speaking of, I get all antsy just sending an email (or blog comment), worried that I've left a typo somewhere. Sheesh. If I'm this riled up now, I'll probably be scaling the walls when it comes to my novel-length submissions.


    Today, brainstormed new story ideas for Camp NaNoWriMo. I originally had two. Now I'm at twelve. At this rate, my prep for April will be "Oh, hi, April. I better start writing now."

    In other writerly news, I sent off a nonfic piece, sent some marketing ideas for a writing non-profit org that I volunteer for, and am barrelling through the six entries and their synopses that I'm judging for a Novel Contest. I don't think there's been a day in the entire month, so far, where my vision hasn't blurred before noon. And my digits hurt. And my back's sore (also from a work injury). So, I'm feeling the pain, working through and with it. Never felt more like a writer than I do right now. ;-)

    Onwards and upwards. (And ten bonus points for continuing the McFly goodness!)


    Cheers,

    Tonette

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    1. The clock ticks louder, more pronounced, as though Life is trying to test your sanity while you wait for the call or email. Speaking of, I get all antsy just sending an email (or blog comment), worried that I've left a typo somewhere.

      Yes...it is sooooo like that for me! Way to go with Camp NaNoWriMo! I have an editing job to take care of, so that will set my brain off track for at least a little while. Sometimes, that is when I have an epiphany or two!

      And the McFlys march on...or is that McFlies?

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  19. The thing that fustrated me the most when I was query agents, was that the first couple of batches of queries always had such a great request rate. But I knew that rate would drop as I kept querying more agents. Honestly, it wasn't until I had an agent offer and started to get replies from agents who I'd notified that a lot of what was going on with my querying clarified. There were agents who I thought I had a good chance of eventually signing with (they'd requested fulls like 3 or 4 times from me) and other agents who I'd pretty much not thought a lot about but who (unknow to me) had passed my ms around the office to several people and were on the cusp of offering on an older manuscript. The real trick and mystery to querying is knowing who (or hopefully several whos) the right agent is. Meeting agents face to face can help with this, I think.

    Gosh, I'm rambling. Years ago, I had an agent phone me--I'm talking top of the pile, been in the business for twenty years, old school agent. She told me that she liked my writing, but that I needed a new agent at a solid agency with the time to work with me. She suggested I query new, young agents. And guess what? I signed with an agent who is exactly what she thought I needed and would eventually get. She was wiser than me and right.

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  20. I used to play the "avoidance game". You can't be rejected if you don't send anything out... right? Last year I finally mustered up the courage to send some short stories out and panicked over every story that was out there. Amidst dozens of rejections, I got 3 acceptances. Now I'm sending out a novel query and haunting my email multiple times a day.

    I keep myself distracted by writing and daydreaming the worst-case-scenarios helps keep me mostly sane every day.

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    1. That worst-case-scenario is becoming a recurring theme ;-) ! I do that too. Hurray on those acceptances, Carolyn! Congrats! And good luck with your query!

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  21. Waiting DOES suck (although I can take it better than I used to...maybe I'm just numb? lol). Too bad it's such a never-ending part of our chosen career. :P

    12-hr shift today and tomorrow, but hoping to get some revising done each night. I don't usually try to write after work, but hey, it's March Madness! Must keep up the pace!

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    1. You go, girl! I wish I had that stamina. I poop out by 8:30 these days! But the madness must carry on...

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  22. Ahhhhh, I won a thing! I literally squealed and clapped because I am an overly excited 5 year old. Yay!

    I had an absolutely crazy day - I had to attend Samsung's Galaxy launch event and report on all that news from Radio City Music Hall on their overloaded wifi. Before and after though, I got some work done on the WIP and wrote about 3,000 words today. Not as many as I was aiming for but the day job got in the way. Hope you're all doing well!

    - M

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    1. YAY, Melissa! And way to work that WIP in the middle of craziness!

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  23. Control freak? Me? Nah, I've only been stuffing myself away in my turtle shell, punishing myself because 7 editors have passed on my picture book so far! Loved your post, Mary Ann!

    Hope everyone is well! I know, I"m a day behind!

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    1. Boy, I hear that! Sending hugs and a troop of tiny cheer leaders to keep on your desk! It's all part of the madness. Rock on!

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  24. LOL on this post and boy howdy do I hear you! I wait by jumping in to the next project and over the years I am getting much better at it. But this month my own Everest of rejection has gotten to me (I think) as I try to pare down all my doings-I have not written much, subbed much, anything much as I have let my self confidence take a hit. BUT--making my way through some March Madness posts and let me tell you, you guys are getting me back on track and out of my head and back to WORK. Go WIPSTERS.

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    1. Yay, Deb! That's what our March Madness is all about!

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