Postcards From Query Road.

I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.” 

Albert Einstein

As a struggling (but still-hopeful) writer on Query Road, there’s nothing to stop you from taking your car at one hundred miles an hour and plowing it into the next tree, as you gather rejection letter after rejection letter. Symbolically and deep down, where those crises of confidence and self-esteemless moments lurk, it stings to have The Gatekeepers of Hopes and Dreams not even slam the door in your face, but refuse to open it in the first place. 

While we as writers try hard not to take it personally, it can take an uber-steady will to separate rejection from our hopes and dreams. As we hope agents will make at least a little fuss over our polished offerings, and dream of one day holding our book in our hands all fresh and pink and full of promise, there remains a fine, sketchy line between heart and publication.

So, put it on cruise-control, worthy writers, and take in the scenery. It’s really true what they say about it not being the destination but the journey. As you bravely collect rejection letters yet remain steadfast in your quest, you are learning, growing, marinating, maturing and earning your “masters degree” in self-confidence, hard work, persistence and patience — all things that will not only make you a better writer, but a better person who writes. 

And a better driver as you cruise down Query Road, bopping to the tunes and spying the perfect turn-off for a picnic — a writer has to eat, after all — where, on the grassy slope, the light bulb goes off, as you’ve just thought of an idea for your next novel.

What a lucky writer you are, indeed.

 “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Albert Einstein

17 Responses

  1. Hey Em,

    Beautifully said. We do need to love the entire journey. The writing, the edits, even the querying. When I start querying, instead of being all stressed about it, I hope to think of it as an adventure on that road to novel publication. I hope for a smooth ride, but am ready to face the bumps on the way. 🙂

  2. This is so right. 🙂

  3. The rollercoaster bumps. : ) It really is a rollercoaster, but in a good way. And yes, an adventure — a wonderful, wild, twinkling adventure.


  4. It isn’t a thing we do, this writing we do. It’s a way of life. Because of that, there’s so much room to learn and grow.

    On that note — Congratulations, Elana, on making the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award!

    If you want to read Elana’s entry, and leave a review that will help her with the next round, you can find it here:

    I’ve got everything crossed for you! How exciting! Please keep us posted, okay?


  5. I am about a million light years away from finishing my novel but I have quite a collection of short stories I have written over the years. Even now if I get stuck on the novel, which happens about every other day, I go back to writing short stories. I have been thinking of compiling some and seeing if I could find an agent but I am so nervous of the idea of approaching anyone (surely the rejection factor) that I haven’t even started. Your post made me think I should go for it and get the experience. 🙂

    Loved this post.

  6. Em, as always, you shed light and sunshine on everything. Query Road is directly responsible for a great deal of personal growth and writerly growth, as well. Venus, I highly recommend it – if nothing else, it has taught me to separate a little from my work – to send it out into the world as healthy parents send their fledgling children, with high hopes for their success, but moving on with life in their absence. And, when they fail or flounder and bounce back, brushing them off and sending them out into the world again…

  7. At least you’re venturing out on query road. I’m still stuck in shop for repairs. 🙂

    Here’s to hoping you spy a few rainbows along the way.

  8. […] leftywritey put an intriguing blog post on Postcards From Query Road. « Lefty In My Write MindHere’s a quick excerptPostcards From Query Road. I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.” Albert Einstein. As a struggling but still-hopeful writer on Query Road, there’s nothing to … […]

  9. Uppington, thanks for the encouragement. I really loved the way you described the process of sending out your work into the world and giving them the nurturing they need if and when they come back. I need to find more writers online because I love writers’ blogs. Don’t you feel there’s a way of looking at the world that writers share that is different from others? I don’t mean people who write or even write well but those who see or think of themselves as authors, as creators of worlds in words. I have noticed there’s a different, more uplifting take on life even when things are hard.

  10. Venus, I think I’ve found two kinds of writing Blogs: writers with an uplifting take on things, and the other kind. I made a decision awhile back to only regularly read blogs that make me feel motivated, upbeat, and encouraged, and to avoid the ones that make me feel stupid, inept or guilty. There are a number of wonderful and supportive blog sites that work for me much like a writing group. This is one of them. (Em is the Queen of enthusiasm, in case you hadn’t noticed!)

  11. Thank you Venus. : )

    A good way to start getting writing creds is by submitting short stories to magazines or to contests held by writing journals. Two of my own favorites are John Amen’s The Pedestal Magazine, and Glimmer Train Press. I finaled in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open contest, and G.T. is very kind to new writers — for example, I hadn’t known to double-space my submission, nor did I give dialogue its separate lines, and even so, they concentrated on the writing.

    As for The Pedestal, I plan to begin submitting poetry again for publication, now that I feel my poems are finally as crisp as I always wanted them to be. It is scary to submit your work, but there is also a thrill matched by nothing else, to have pros reading your writing. Publishing poems and/or short stories also gives a writer great creds to put on their query letter, and offers some reassurance to agents that the writing must be pretty solid, if others in the biz think so.

    I do say go for it, and get the experience! Whether you submit some of your stories to journals, or find an agent that reps short story collections, yes, the experience you’ll gain will be phenomenal.

    And, however it goes, we’re all here to hold your hand. : )


  12. I LOVED your comment, Uppington. : ) I love the image of our work being baby birds — first, loving the nest, then, getting up the courage to fly out there, and then, being the Mama Bird and needing to hope, but let go. Awesome image. No wonder you’re a writer. : )

    Yup — a little light, a little sunshine, and a little t.m.d (winks), and we’re all set. : )

    I’m applying your logic and feeling a little less anxious as I presently send partials and fulls out to agents. Thank you for that.

    Peep peep!


  13. Awwww, thank you, Crista. : )

    Of course, you just sold one of your stories — that’s awesome! I hope the repair shop works quickly, too. I know it’s only a matter of time for you, and then I can brag to everyone that I knew you when! : )


  14. Wait – Em, you’re not only sending partials, you’ve got requests for fulls???!!! This is important. This is exciting. Holding my breath for you…

  15. Hi Uppington!

    Oops, I mean plural as in requests, but, I did get a request for a Full, yes! I haven’t had the chance to post about it yet, after posting on the partials. But, it’s why it’s taking me longer to comment on comments lately, too, so, thanks everyone for your patience as I feverishly go over the entire manuscript one more time before sending it out on April 1st, along with tweaking my synopsis. I am so excited it defies words. : ) Thank you for the luck. I’m very, very hopeful.

    I’ve also spent the last two days nursing my colicing old Arabian horse, Cloud. I have a post coming on that, too — OMG, the days have been so emotional my heart feels like it’s been ripped open — and that has taken precedence, of course, over the novel/agent requests. I was up two straight nights with him, which made me quite the zombie, but I got some sleep last night, when, around 3 a.m., I was sure he’d turned the corner. I’ve never been so happy in my life to see the perfectly-formed green balls of manure where there’d once been explosive diarrhea. Whew.

    I love my Cloudy, our awesome vet, and I love everyone!

    Em : )

  16. Oh Em. Congratulations on the full request. All the best! Thank you also for the mention of the two writing journals. I was feeling hopelessly directionless on this and now it gives me two concrete leads to follow. Thank you!

  17. Thank you, Venus!

    Wow, these waits to hear something are hard. Getting better with experience, but still hard! : )

    And, you’re welcome for the leads. : ) If you go to the Glimmer Train site, you can sign up for their writer’s newsletter/bulletin, which is free, and they also have other resources for a subscription fee.


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