I was riding the train home from work one evening when I felt an overwhelming urge to send out a few queries after receiving a requests in the October 2019 round of #DVPit. You see, this was not the first time I’ve entered this particular pitching contest, but my manuscript was nowhere near query shape so I did a top to bottom rewrite, determined to put my best work into the hands of agents.

Fast forward to October, I threw my pitches into the Twitterverse and it showed me some agent love. Two of my dream agents liked my pitch. Was it serendipity that the same two also liked my pitch the first time around? I was excited, hopeful and nervous. But by the time December rolled around, I still hadn’t sent a single query?

Why?

Another read through led to an inconceivably long list of edits that I am yet to conquer and somewhere along the 200 pages of my middle grade novel, I sunk into a bit of a funk, overwhelmed at everything still needed to make the story work.

So it was on this train, as it rocked and screeched between Manhattan and Queens that I thought about perfectionism and self-doubt and all the lofty goals that I set at the beginning of 2019, including to query my novel by the end of the year. It bothered me that I’d spent all of 2019 working on this novel and it still wasn’t query ready. It’s the end of a decade for heavens sake. It was due to this self imposed pressure that I amped myself up and sent out a total of 6 queries. Because why not…

What was I thinking?

  • that agents can take 6-8 weeks or longer to respond (unless the agent has a ‘no response is a pass from us’ position)
  • that I would finish the edits long before anyone got back to me
  • that querying somehow made me accountable to follow through on my publishing dream

What happened next?

  • A record speed form rejection rolled in 4 days later – ‘your project does not suit our list at this time’
  • A personal rejection that was really encouraging – but kicked up the dust of all my anxieties because now I still had 4 queries out in the world and a manuscript that wasn’t ready to leave my Outbox to go anywhere.
  • Burgeoning panic about how foolish I’d look if I received a request for a full or partial
  • Flashing neon lights that screamed ‘Amateur Writer’
  • Realizing with horror that I botched the first 2 queries

So I’ve put all querying on hold until all my edits are done and maybe another round of beta reading. Publishing tends to slow down with agents closed to queries over the holidays, anyway this all feels like a reprieve of sorts.

Reality is, I caved to an unreasonable expectation I placed on myself. Thankfully no damage done but it was a reminder that the writing process takes as long as it takes. Everything in the universe that is destined for me, already has my name written on it.

There is no need to rush.