It takes a lot of courage to write. I’m not big-upping myself, I know that if you are reading this, you probably write.
(All my friends are artists, even the ones who don’t acknowledge that part of themselves. You are courageous, and I love you.)
It takes even more courage to present that work to scrutiny, to ask someone who owes you nothing, if they would please like to buy your work and promote it with their name attached. My courage usually fails here. Query letters are a social game, with indiscernible rules, where a win grants you a few more seconds to pitch your work, and a fail is mark on your name. “This one does not belong with us.”
Or, that’s how it seems, when you are all alone, reading every book in your writing-instruction library and wondering how anyone has ever liked their own work enough to write “Dear Editor…”
I am becoming more courageous. That has not come from the years writing alone. (That had its own uses, which may be a post for another day.) It’s because I’ve met people in the industry. I’ve seen so much kindness from fellow authors, and editors, and agents. And I know that every one of those people are in the industry because they love stories and they want to make stories happen.
I sent out a couple really big stories recently, and I am not worried about them. If they sell, I will be thrilled. If they don’t, I will send them on to someone else. I won’t have offended anyone for sending a story they don’t want. I won’t have made some great social blunder that will keep me out of print forever.
Nobody seeks failure in their inbox. And if you’ve found an editor who does, you didn’t want to work with that person, anyway.
Also, if you know some magic, use it! Fear tells stories. Its favorite story is the one about all the possible disastrous futures that could result from your actions. But stories are my magic, and I’m really good at upsetting the narrative. I once put on skull face paint to set up a poetry reading over the phone. Fear didn’t know what to do with the shear absurdity of my actions, and the phone call went exceptionally well. Not every magic needs skullface, but allow yourself the tools you need to overcome fear. Sometimes just a favorite pair of sunglasses will alter your perspective enough to send that query letter.
In other news, I’ve been reading some brilliant stories while not updating this blog. Here’s a few recent favorites:
Robo-Liopleurodon! by Darcie Little Badger is about the futility of being a scientist when the world has stopped listening to scientists, and the piratic ways to fight back! (And just keep reading through the rest of Robot Dinosaur Fiction after you are done because it’s seriously great.)
After Midnight at the ZapStop by Matthew Claxton is absolutely delightful, and I love how dang mundane this incredible science fiction world is to the poor guy working the counter at the only 24 hour 3D bio-printer shop in town. The way all the pieces come together in the end is super satisfying, too.
The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections by Tina Connolly is a total magic trick. A despot slowly savors another delicious meal while the protagonist relives the years in which he rose to power, and the ways she failed to resist. Also, there are magic pastries that allow you to relive specific memories, and I want to eat (almost) every single one of them.