Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Paper Plates—A Letter from the Trenches

by Charlee Vale

Dear Readers,

On Valentine's Day, I participated in the Pitch-a-Partner Festival, hosted by FTWA's very own Mindy McGinnis, MarcyKate Connelly, and R.C. Lewis.

I had a really good day, and I decided that since my query letter was good enough for that, I'd send out some queries. I did. Now what ...

Being in limbo is something a lot of writers go through, and at every stage of the process. In limbo waiting for queries, in limbo waiting for request responses, in limbo waiting on submission, in limbo waiting for your editorial letter. For most of you reading this post, I imagine it's the first one, just like me.

Every writer has their own way of coping with the limbo. Some people, like me, flounder because we haven't quite found our coping mechanism yet. And while I was thinking about how to deal with this, I was reminded of a story my college choir director told me.

I'd like to share it with you:

A classical pianist went into a studio to record an album. As the day went on he became more and more frustrated, as he didn't feel the tracks were good enough—He made mistakes, and had to repeat the songs over and over. Finally he became so frustrated he stormed out of the studio, needing air.

While he was wandering the halls, he passed a studio where an R&B artist was recording. He stopped to watch for a moment and what he saw amazed him. The man recording was having fun—not only that, but there seemed to be joy pouring out of the recording studio. When the man finished his take the pianist went inside and introduced himself, expressed his troubles and asked how it was that the man seemed to have such joy in the recording process. To which the man replied: "You treat your music like fine china, I treat mine like paper plates."

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Art doesn't have to be rigid. We can always change it, and there will always be more. We don't have to worry about dropping it or breaking it. If we don't like something, we can discard it and start again.

I know that the query trenches are hard, and sometimes they even feel impossible. I know that when you're in the middle of it, it feels like if something doesn't happen it will be the end of the world—that if this book, this story doesn't reach the world we'll die, but we won't.

We shouldn't stop our lives for it. Keep on living, keep on creating, keep on writing. Know that whatever you need to do to get yourself through the query trenches, you WILL make it, even if making it means a painful parting.

So to all of you in the query trenches, I'm there with you. Carry on.

Charlee

Charlee Vale is a Young Adult writer, photographer, and tea lover living in New York City. You can also find her at her website, and on Twitter.



6 comments:

JeffO said...

I think the important thing is to move on to something else so that you don't obsessively check your e-mail every couple of minutes. I will say that, after a while, you start to forget the queries are even out there.

Best of luck, Charlee, and welcome to the trenches!

SC Author said...

Great post! I've always thought that we take writing TOO seriously, sometimes. Have fun. Is not all about that ONE book! Enjoy it and allow yourself to make mistakes :)

Jemi Fraser said...

LOVE this Charlee! Paper plates is the perfect way to look at it! And good luck with those queries :)

Denise Covey said...

What a great post. I'll remember paper plates...

M. J. Joachim said...

Best of luck on your query. Now get out of those trenches and plant a tree or something already:)

Martina at Adventures in YA Publishing said...

Lovely story! And good luck waiting. You're right. It seems we're always waiting, and always preparing for rejection, from critique partners, agents, editors, aquisition panels, reviewers, readers . . . I like to think the query trenches actually toughen us up a bit, teach us what we need to know to cope with the next steps. :)

Hang in there and good luck!