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The Query Trenches: A Confession


When querying, there are ups and downs. Sometimes, you are on a mountain, and sometimes you are in a trench. As most of you know, I'm querying right now. I've been on some mountains, and had some very wonderful and promising things happen, so I don't want anyone to think this is my "I've given up" post. It's simply my confession on the trenches of querying. I always want to be honest - to show you guys what the writing journey is really like, and what my journey has been like. Here's my confession...

Being in the query trenches is hard. Being a writer is hard. You hear stories of people sending a query and five minutes later having agents request their manuscript. And then you sit around waiting for weeks – or sometimes months – with nothing but silence, only to have the form rejections come pouring in. Or worse, no response at all. You start to think that maybe you just aren’t a good enough writer, and maybe you never will be. Every book I write hones my craft. Sharpens my skill. And as I look back over the course of my writing journey thus far, I can see how I’ve grown so much and what an incredible journey it’s been. But despite all the posts I’ve done and all the things I’ve shared, I’m not a pro. I’m not any different than all of you, trying to make dreams come true. Is publication the reason I write? No. But I still want to share my stories with the world. With everyone who has ever supported me. So when the silence and the waiting and the discouragement comes, it’s so hard to stay positive.

They don’t call it the “query trenches” because it’s a place you want to be. It’s a deep dark hole of what ifs and maybe-I’m-not-good-enoughs. But it is also a place of hope. Lots of incredible books have been plucked from the slush pile, and it could be me next. It could be you. Even if this book isn’t the one, don’t stop. Maybe it will be your tenth, or your twentieth.

I look back on my first novel and see now what I missed back then – I wanted so badly for that to be the one. But let’s be honest… I was fourteen. I was not ready to be a published author, and CONCEALED was not ready to be a published book. It taught me so, SO much, and I will always have a special place in my heart for that first book. I cried lots of night, spent so much time writing and revising and deleting and rewriting, into the wee hours of the morning. Those memories will always be with me. I wrote about that journey on my first blog, and it is something I want to continue now. Even if WHAT LIES ABOVE isn’t the one either, I’ll still share the moving on. Because writing isn’t all about success the first time. The road is rarely ever easy. I’ll finish my third book and try again. Every book I write takes me closer, and I want to share that with you all.

After I finally gave up querying CONCEALED, I didn’t work on a novel for two years. I was so discouraged, and it wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I started writing WHAT LIES ABOVE. It’s hard to believe I went so long without writing, but it pushes me now to keep fighting. I posted a quote on my Facebook page once that says, “Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.” I think of it as a motto for my writing – that anyone can have a dream, but not everyone acts on them. It takes hard work and tears and prayer, but there are also moments of laughing and crying for joy and praising God for ever even giving me this love for writing.

I remember last year when I was watching the Olympics, I would see these gymnasts and other incredible athletes who had a dream and worked for it, and after all their lives, they made it happen. And I thought to myself – I’ve done so many things and they’ve never stuck. I did every sport and activity under the sun when I was a child, but never stayed in one for more than a few years. And it was sort of discouraging, because I thought I didn’t have that thing I could look back on and say “It was a long and hard journey, but I made it.” But then I realized that writing is that thing for me. I started when I was twelve, and almost seven years later, I’m still writing. Still fighting. And one day, if I ever get published, I’ll look back on this long journey and I’ll be able to say – it took hard work and prayers and tears, but I made it. Who knows when that day will be or if it will ever come, but until then: Keep writing. Keep fighting.

So right now, while I’m in the query trenches, that is what I keep telling myself. I celebrate the positive, accept the negative, add another layer to my thick skin, and push on. And here’s to you doing the same! The query trenches can only crush you if you let them. So don’t lose hope guys! There is always someone out there going through it too, and that’s why having friends and family and a writing community is so amazing :) If you’re stuck in the query trenches, start a new book and don’t let the discouragement keep you from what you love!

What has been your query experience? Have you ever felt discouraged, about querying or some other aspect of writing? Are you feeling that way now? Share in the comments below!

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