Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm Scared

I have a book written. I have a hook written. I have a synopsis written. I have all the contact and submission information necessary for an agent who ought to love the lesbian western.

I don't want to send it.

Why, exactly, sending a query - a routine business letter - paralyzes me with terror, I don't understand. I'm not afraid of rejection. I don't like it, but I'm used to it. I've had lots of practice and survived without serious discomfort every time.

It's a lot like my fear of small heights. I can go up in a plane just fine (except for the excruciating pain in my ears on descent), but ladders terrify me. I feel sick and as if I'm falling off backward. I used to think this was a phobia, until the day I went through the battery of tests at the ear doctor and heard the technician say brightly: "Well, you have 0% gravity detection in your left ear." It turns out, my fear of heights is a rational one, given the fact that my body can't reliably tell where it is in relation to the earth in the absence of a direct connection!

Because they feel so similar, I'm inclined to think that my fear of queries may be, like my fear of heights, based on some similar personal idiosyncrasy. I don't know what. It's not shyness, because - though I hate meeting new people generally - I'm not shy. I don't hesitate to approach people in strange cities when I'm lost, for example, though I don't do it randomly; and I frequently approach people downtown who I see doing the Lost Tourist Dance (stand in middle of sidewalk, map in hand, and turn slowly, glancing from map to territory and back with each turn) in order to help them find what they're looking for. It's not asociality, because it's just business and for the most part I'll never meet the person I'm querying in person. I'll get a rejection and that will be that. It's not - well, it's not a lot of things and I don't know what it is, besides uncomfortable.

It doesn't matter what causes it, though. If I want to sell my work I have to send queries, just as if I want to change the light bulb or wallpaper the roof I have to climb ladders. And I can bull through either fear. Done it many times, will many times again. It's one of the few things I have in common with the heroine of the lesbian western - if either of us has to do a thing, we always prove to be able to do it.

Which doesn't prevent me from procrastinating by writing blog posts about it.

1 comment:

  1. Scared is normal. Print it out, put it in an envelope, and set it aside for a week. Then open it like it's your mail and you're the agent. See what you think.

    Have you read Noah Lukeman's free ebook on writing query letters? It's the best, most brutal advice. Totally scrapped my Q after reading it, but in the end, by following his advice (and having a good book to sell, let me tell myself), I got an agent. And then an editor. And finally, a book!

    So, yeah, it is how it has to happen. You can do it!