A Request For Pages.

“An ice age here, a million years of mountain-building there, plates of bedrock grinding against each other over a span of millennia… Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes, really. Pressure and time.”

The Shawshank Redemption

 It was just about the most exciting thing that’s happened to me yet — a few days ago I checked my email and found a response from an agent I queried, written like a regular email, devoid of stock industry phrases, requesting manuscript pages after reading my query letter and synopsis.

I’m just so excited.

It’s good to know an agent thinks my novel’s premise can hold up in the publishing world. She wanted to see if my writing style was a good fit. I’m still waiting to hear the verdict.

“Opinions vary widely in this business”, as you get used to reading in rejection letters, and it’s true; we’ll just have to wait and see if it’s my time to shine. If it is, great; I’m ready to go because I’ve done the hard, hard work, and I’ll continue to do it. If it’s not, it’s not, and my time will come. I believe that’s true for all of us.

The days have been getting kinder in the desert, a welcome break for humans and animals. The temperature during the day is still one hundred degrees or more, but the evenings are finally cooling off as the monsoon rains sneak in at night and work their magic.

Last night, sitting on the porch as the storm built up, my hot hair off my neck in a clip (and the breeze worth ticket money), I imagined the email with the next request: a partial.

In anticipation, I woke up early this morning and went back over the first one hundred pages.

Stumbling into the kitchen a few hours later and seeing me typing away, my husband groaned at my declaration that I would continue to go over the whole manuscript, all 387 pages, “just one more time”. He now laughs when he hears me say “the book is done!” or “I’m done editing”, because we both know the insidious, book-writing truth: it’s never really done. A writer will always reread, recheck and fiddle.

A writer friend, upon hearing of the request for pages, was happy I’d no longer have to fret over disinterest or form rejections.

However, just last night another impersonal, form rejection arrived in my inbox. It just goes to show how subjective the business really is — “Opinions vary widely in this business” — as you sail your book out into the world, say, tasting like pizza, when the agent had more of a hankering for wild cherries.

You just never know. It’s why rejection is never a good reason to pack it in — the pizza-loving agent may only be a query letter away, looking through her inbox, famished.

8 Responses

  1. Good to hear you are checking the pizza again before putting it in the oven. If it be not now, yet it will come. If it be not to come, then it will be now. The readiness is all.

  2. Hey Harlan! : )

    Definitely — the readiness makes all the difference.


  3. Truly a writer is never done. Rechecking, fiddling, etc. has become the bane of my existence :).

  4. It’s the bane of my existence, too! : )

    But I do have to say, this “last” (hahahaha!) editing go-around I’m doing now did pull some things together tighter, while to my delight, big novel chunks are fine as they already are! Finally! Hooray!


  5. Oh Em, congratulations on the positive response!

    You have such a healthy view of these things. I especially liked this part: You just never know. It’s why rejection is never a good reason to pack it in – the pizza-loving agent may only be a query letter away, looking through her inbox, famished.

    Think of all those who rejected Harry Potter or Margaret Atwood or Stephenie Meyer. Those three authors are so HUGE now the others must be kicking themselves for not preferring pizza at the time! You’re so right about an agent’s or publisher’s mood and taste. They’re not all the same. When you have something you know is good, there is always hope.

  6. Big hugs for you, Steph. Your encouragement means so much to me. : )

    When I first started querying, my life turned upside down. I was anxious, moody, cranky, and wishing I wasn’t a writer. I knew right away I needed to handle it differently/ see it differently/ interpret it differently if I was going to be around for the long haul.

    Now, I’m actually enjoying the process — it’s just so exciting! It helps that I’ve edited so hard and put in the work — because of that, I don’t doubt myself/my writing. It’s one less thing to worry about when rejections come.

    I can’t control agents or publishers’ tastes or whatever else — but I can control myself, and how I see and experience the process.

    As soon as I got past taking rejection personally, and accepted that “writing is a business”, I got out of my own way. I was freed.

    : )


  7. Get out of your own way. Exactly! 🙂

    You have a wonderful and mature attitude about all of this. I wish you all the best. Keep up the good work and update as things happen!

  8. Thank you, Steph!

    Developing a positive attitude is a writer’s best friend. A writer has the power to decide how they view, experience and handle the query process.

    Perhaps that’s the biggest lesson of all — and just as important as the goal of publication.


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