The Fear of Submitting My Manuscripts

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Each day on my calendar, I list the writing tasks and goals I would like to accomplish. I'm hardly ever able to complete everything I have planned--this is either because there's no possible way a human being could finish all those tasks, or I spend to much time on e-mail, or I play with my dogs and watch reality TV. Okay, so maybe it's a combination of all three. It doesn't bother me too much because I do accomplish a lot, and I can usually catch up on the weekends. But the one thing I've noticed is that I always put off a certain task-until it's too late at night and I'm too tired to do what is required. That task is sending out my creative work to agents and editors. And I'm trying to figure out why this is.

Currently, I have three projects--a YA novel and two picture book manuscripts--that are ready to be submitted. I have submitted the YA novel to a few agents and received rejections. Then I had a brilliant idea (or at least I think so) about one of my character's motivations, so I am in the process of changing a few things in the manuscript. But still, all in all, these three are ready to go, and I am now more excited about the YA novel with my new change. And almost every day on that list of things to do, I write something like: "Find agents that accept picture books." or "Look into the editors I met at the November conference." But did I do this at all last week? NOPE. Did I do it this week yet? NOPE.

It's not like I did nothing --I've written articles, book reviews, blogs, part of a synopsis (talk about procrastinating--these things are horrible to write), revised a picture book manuscript, and more. But I always put sending out my manuscripts at the bottom of my list, which I hardly ever get to. WHY?

Do I fear rejection? Well, I guess we all do to a certain extent. But I've had enough of it over the last ten years to know that it only hurts for a little bit before my optimistic attitude wins out, and I recover. Do I hate researching the editors and agents? Frankly--yes, whenever I read a blog post or interview with an agent or editor, I think: What she's looking for is exactly what I'm writing. She'll accept my manuscript for sure. And then when I see the rejection, I think: Maybe I need to work on my reading comprehension skills because obviously she wasn't looking for my work at all. Or maybe I just hate sending out my work because it takes the time away from actual writing, and there's no guarantee that the time I just spent sending out my work will pay off.

So, what should I do about this problem--since if I never send out work, I will never accomplish my goals? I know what I should do. I should put sending out my work at the top of the list, unless I have a deadline for something else. OR Make it a goal to send to one agent or editor each day. That's what I should do. But first I have to get over this mental block. I hope by sharing this with you today, that's the first step. Anyone else have these kinds of problems? It's not writers' block--it's sending-out-your-work block.

post written by Margo L. Dill,
photo by Pink Moose


Marcia Peterson said...

I think it's a common block. you are not alone!! :)

Margo Dill said...

I'm glad to hear that. Well, no I'm not, as I want everyone to send out their work!!! :)


Angelica R. Jackson said...

My obsession is sort of a related thing; for the first few weeks after I send out a submission, way too much energy goes into constantly checking my email for a reply.

Despite the market having a clearly worded response time, despite the fact that so many of the publishers and agents have gone to "we will only respond if interested," and despite the fact that the publisher wanted a SASE with the postal submission.

I still get sucked into that belief, "Maybe they sent an enthusiastic email in the last 2 seconds, begging me to let them have my book!"

It wears off after a few weeks, once I've gotten into another project. Some of the submissions I have out right now take six months to get back to you, there's no way I could maintain that pattern for six months.

Ally said...

I do the exact same thing. I write short stories and flash fiction. I have a handful that I feel good about submitting, and yet...I don't. I've made it a goal to submit at least one of my five best stories per week and keep a back-up venue so that I can send it right back out again if it gets rejected. I use my first hour of the workday to do this. In weeks where everything is still out and I'm waiting to hear, I'll use that hour in the morning to work on something new or polish a WIP. I've been doing this for two weeks now. So far, so good! :)

Margo Dill said...

Angelica--I think we all expect that miracle to happen, and that just shows that we have great confidence and love for our work. That is a GOOD thing!

Ally--what a great plan! I do need to do something like this. Okay, I'm going to work on this! :) I did at least finish my synopsis and sent it to my critique group last night, so I am getting closer.


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