“More tears have been shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”
St. Teresa of Avalia
Oh, the Query Process.
It was only May 19th, 2008, not that long ago, when the last page of my novel was re-edited and finished and feeling quite ecstatic, and very sparkly and magical after all that hard work, I pushed aside my laptop, sprawled out in the rocking chair and rocked as if I was one of the most clever writers on the planet. Perhaps, for a few short, short minutes, I was.
With a sixth digit (known as a pen or laptop) and a vast mental landscape that invited the dig, I uncovered, discovered, and grew taller in the process, laboring over my vision and carefully choosing words, building paragraphs and constructing chapters, divining a name, making points and nesting insights between description, dialogue and narration. Making something out of nothing, I stood back in awe.
If you’ve ever done it, published or not, you know it’s an exhilarating moment in a writer’s life, and especially if it’s your first. Stretching the writer further than she believed possible, pushing and grunting to produce this alien baby of words and cleverness, she changes the world, that day, by introducing it to something new, original and fresh. She is a creator.
I yearn for May 19th, 2008, and that child-like wonder and permanent grin. A book was still a book, then; all a writer had to do was write well and finish — not easy, but yet, that easy. I was happily ignorant of the business end of things, like bottom-lines and commercial value, the publishing lottery, needles in literary agency’s haystacks and golden tickets for lucky writers.
Now, feverishly researching publishing, publishers, literary agents and query letters, while hanging in the shadows of literary blogs, I eat chocolate and search for that golden ticket, say prayers to my dead grandmothers to find a literary agent for me, and, punchy from swimming the sea of Google, dry off and read my query letters to the dogs when the horses get bored and lumber off in search of grass. Inviting serendipity into my home, to help steer the course, I still do my part by putting in the work.
We all know what St. Teresa says. However, I’m always ready to shed tears over something important. It’s the way of the world, to shed tears. It’s the way of the writer’s world, too.
Today, I offer up a prayer for all the novels still on laptops, in dresser drawers, under the bed in manuscript boxes, hidden at the back of the closet, and even in the garbage: you are a miracle, you book, you! “Still a manuscript, I am” they may say, but we know better.
If a book fell in the forest and no one was there to hear it, would it still make a sound? Of course. How about an unpublished manuscript? Of course. Who knew books had such loud voices? I don’t even need to answer that one.