Cheryl Angst is a middle school teacher and writer. Her first novel,The Firestorm Conspiracy, is due to be published by Lyrical Press Inc., sometime in 2011. She is currently working on a suspense novel,Job Hunted, about a young woman who becomes a target for assassination when she turns down the job of a lifetime.
You can find her musings on writing, querying, and other aspects of publishing on her blog. She can also be reached at cherylangst(at)gmail(dot)com.
Let me begin by thanking the Alliterati for the opportunity to write a guest post for their blog. I am thrilled to be here and, truth be told, a little scared. I’ve been puttering in my corner of the internet in total obscurity, and I’ve discovered there’s very little pressure to entertain when your only follower is your mother’s cat.
That being said, I’ve come to the realization that writing for an audience is an awful lot like being Homer Simpson. I’m not talking about saying, “D’oh!” every time I find a grossly overused adverb or heinous adjective in my manuscript (I tend to use more colourful language while hunting those beasties). Rather, I’m likening writing to Homer’s adventures down a cliff-face, river, gondola, or street: every time you think the worst is over, something else springs out and smashes you in the groin.
Before you start thinking this post is going to be all doom-and-gloom, I invite you to remember that regardless of how many objects get embedded in that man’s body, or how many times he’s been hit in the head or crotch, he ALWAYS COMES OUT ALIVE (and sometimes better for it). And this is how I view the process of writing for publication.
Do you remember the butterflies and adrenaline surges when you first decided you were going to write? I remember mine. I thought, “I’m going to do this, I’m really going to do this!” Now picture Homer sailing through the air, shouting, “I’m king of the world!” He felt pretty good too.
Then I sat down in front of an empty page. Dude, what the hell was I thinking? Here’s where we cue Homer’s first ‘uh oh’ moment – missing the landing by *that* much. I stared at the screen wondering what had possessed me to think I could write. I rested my fingers on the keyboard, hoping the warmth from the laptop’s internal fan would inspire my hands into producing magic.
I began to write. Hesitant at first, I stuttered along until I had a routine and could actually produce stories and chapters worthy of more than lining the litter box. Here’s where Homer grabs a branch (usually with his groin) and breaks his fall. I felt good. Relieved. I did it. I wrote something – something I believe in enough to share with others! Hooray for me! Hooray for Homer! He’s escaped certain death!
What was that? Did you hear the sound of the branch ripping away from the cliff-side? D’oh! It’s time to write a query letter... or two... or three... or sixty. Again the adrenaline surged as my confidence took another free-fall. Querying is tough. Sure, I could spout nearly 80,000 words about aliens, but how was I going to summarize my novel in a page? And how could I possibly face the rejection I knew would follow?
I did it. I did it the same way Homer got down the cliff; one bump at a time. Yes, the first rejection hurt. So did the second and twenty-second. It’s hard not to take rejection personally. Just like it’s nearly impossible not to fall madly in love with the email requesting more pages. “She likes me! She really likes me!”
Cue Homer whooping and spinning in circles on the floor.
Finding a publisher can be equally daunting.D’oh!As is signing your first contract.D’oh!Don’t forget about the first round of edits from your agent or editor.D’oh, d’oh!Waiting for the release date?D’oh!Worrying about sales, options, and marketing?D’oh!
Let’s face it, writing for publication isn’t easy, but it can be entertaining. For over twenty years Homer has thrown his yellow, jiggling body into situations no one in their right mind would consider, gotten himself beaten up for it, and emerged battered but alive. As I writer I continually throw my creative efforts into the world, knowing that no sane person seeks out rejection the way a writer does, and I’ve survived.
Writing, like the land of chocolate, is fun. However, unless you plan on keeping your poetry or prose locked in a box under your bed, there’s always going to be that moment when the brakes fail, the cable snaps, or the skateboard falls short. And here’s where writing is really like Homer Simpson: no matter what happens, he gets up and seeks out a new adventure the following week.
I hope I’m still taking those crazy leaps off cliffs twenty years from now. And, I hope even more, I’m still laughing on the way down.