Monday, November 04, 2019

Is it worth it?

Well, fabulous Shark Queen, I have followed you here and on Query Shark for years and years. I've queries three manuscripts following your manifold best practices. And now, on number three, I'm actually getting somewhere. I've been querying for one month, I've heard back from seven agents, and three have been full requests. So thank you for that. Truly. It wouldn't have been possible without your tireless dedication to making writers not suck.

But now, the thing is, my anxiety is nonstop, through the roof, am-I-actually-having-a-heart-attack level. My heart actually hurts all day every day. When I get a full request I jump around and scream and feel undefeatable, but then in about an hour, it's back to the same. 

Is this the way it will always be? If I'm lucky enough to get an agent, will it be like this while my manuscript is on submission? Then while the editors read my edits? Then while readers give me a whole range of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads? This all only if I'm very very lucky. 

Is it worth it? I love to write. I believe in my story. But my heart! 

Please advise

No, it will not always be this way.

Right now the whole Requested Full thing is new. It's like celebrating your birthday when you were eight. You hadn't had enough birthdays yet to get used to the whole thing, or so many that you really didn't need to celebrate any more (or so many many! you wished people would stop reminding you.)

The more you do something the less jumping about both in delight and anxiety you will have.

The anxiety never really goes away, but you learn to control it.

Is it worth it?
Only you can answer that.

Readers? How do you deal with the anxiety that comes with writing/querying/waiting?  Is it worth it?


nightsmusic said...

Oooh! I LOVE this new theme!! I might be late to the party on it, but it's wonderful and so reflective of our Queen :)

OP, good on you for getting results. Now start writing the next story and stop thinking about what's going on with your current submission. I know, easier said than done, and trust me, I am the poster child for worry and anxiety, but it could be several months before you hear anything. You don't want to live like this for several months. Immersing yourself in your next story helps. It really does. One submission getting requests does not a career make. You need a great follow to that.

Good Luck!!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

"Readers? how do you deal with the anxiety..."
I eat.

Um...far be it from me to criticize the shark but here I have never considered myself a "reader," I am a "REIDER"!

BTW I love the new look.

Mister Furkles said...

I'm guessing here. One way to deal with anxiety is work.

In this case rewrites on your next novel. When you are worried about the results of submissions, you'll be more likely to view your own work with the eye of an editor (or agent or reader) less of "Oh wow, what a wonderful story I wrote."

Amy Johnson said...

Ooh, what a cool new look!

OP: Congrats on the full requests! I agree about focusing on the next book. Also, do be aware of your health in all this, and get help if you need it.

Colleen said...

I love the new look of the site. Just one thing, and sorry to be so literal, but your background depicts freshwater fish – silhouettes of salmonids, catfish, and bass. There won’t be any sharks swimming in those waters.

A fisheries biologist, by day and a wannabe novelist by night, respectfully submits this observation.

Steve Forti said...

Am I the only one who thinks the new background (cool on desktop) is hard to read on mobile? On my phone, it doesn't have the pale background behind the words. Just the fish pattern. Especially difficult to read in the glare of the sun while walking through the parking lot at work (when I usually first read).

Megan V said...

And here I thought the new background was a mix of sharks and witches on broomsticks.

Anyways, I've never found a solution fo my writerly anxiety other than to find people I trust to talk to about it. Oh, and food. Lots and lots of good food.

Colin Smith said...

Colleen: Perhaps the background is not reflective of the Shark's habitat, but of the Shark's appetite... it's a subtle warning... ;)

Call me weird, but I suspect I'm not: I actually enjoy the thrill of querying. Of seeing those agents' names in my inbox. Reading all my other mail before opening those responses (I guess in an age of NORMANs we should relish every one of those). That tense moment before opening, the sigh from a rejection, the grin from a request. Maybe I don't get enough real mail... ;)

Traditional wisdom on how to handle query stress, and I think it's still good advice, is to work on another project. At least try to.

Lennon Faris said...

Anxiety is so annoying. It tells you there's danger when there really is none. My high school speech teacher once said that the physiological response from giving a speech is the same as when you are chased by a bear. Isn't that ridiculous? But of course that doesn't help you. OP, your heart!

But, congratulations. Your hard work is paying off. When anxiety hits me, I do push-ups and V-sits and every time my brain tries to have an anxious thought, I re-direct with another thought like I would a 3-year-old child throwing a tantrum. I am very firm. Sometimes, it even works.

Good luck, OP! I like Megan V's idea. Find some friends who will share a toast with you when you get the next yes. Good people help.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

Timely post as always. When I finished querying my first WIP, I actually got sick for a day or two. I realized it was the letdown.

Now I am querying my second, working on my third, and believe me, working on it is no refuge at all, pantser that I am, because I don't know how i'm going to get all my lovely characters out of this.

Meanwhile realizing that all three are probably trash and i'm never going to hear from an agent.

Coffee is my drug of choice. I like the food suggestion too. And taking a Sabbath once a week.

I agree with other commenters that the new background is cool (fresh water or salt water), but difficult to read on a phone.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I LOVE, LOVE the new look of the blog.

OP, I feel you. And it is great you are getting requests. Well done. You will soon have an agent, and that will be amazing. But you are climbing to a new height. Maybe don't look down?

I am supposed to be stepping into the query trenches right now. Right this very second. I have been reading the blog for years and years, have carefully revised and revised. Beta readers finally love the story, say they can't wait for more after having early beta readers give me less than stellar feedback resulting in repeated revisions.

I have a great story but I am paralyzed with fear I can't seem to get a rational hook into.

I am haplessly fiddling with query and submission materials. And the submission list. But I am scared to push the send button on my queries. I know I will get over it. Hopefully in the next week or so. Work is a bit crazy and I am hoping to get to a more settled period in work to start the plunge. I keep telling people I want to revise again, but I don't need to. At this point, I am changing words here and there. It's done. It's time. I have to get over this. Crossing my fingers and toes.

And yes, I think it will be worth it. I do expect to feel just as you do, OP. Anxiety all the time. And no wonder. We writers pour our souls onto those pages. To put those pages in front of strangers who will have a hand in the fate of the material? Wow. It's like standing naked in public. It's unbelievably stressful. I hope Her Majesty is right (and she usually is) that we will get used to it as our careers extend. And learn to manage our anxiety in more sensible ways. Although, the baking industry and distilleries worldwide are grateful for my coping mechanisms.

KariV said...

I agree @Steve Forti. It's very hard to read on mobile. I have the fish background on my android and my eyes were swimming.

LynnRodz said...

I haven't seen the new look on my laptop yet, but I have to agree with the mobile users, it's hard to read gray print on a dark background especially at night.

I can't comment on OP's situation because I haven't started querying, so I wouldn't know, but I'm sure it's not for the faint-hearted.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

The best thing I have found for anxiety and stress is Tai Chi. No kidding. And I lost ten pounds. And my knee doesn't hurt. You will meet really nice people and at our class we laugh a lot.
Laughing a lot is really good.

Fearless Reider said...

Congrats on the requests, OP! I have an (almost) literal rodent wheel that helps me cope with unrelenting anxiety: a bike desk. Mine’s from Fit Desk, but there are other brands. It has not made me Fit (yet), but it does give the nervous energy somewhere to go besides my head. I find it also helps with the paralyzing anxiety that sets in when I sit down to confront a blank screen. It has posterior-numbing side effects, though, so I alternate between the bike desk and the treadmill.

I figured the new background is there to help us mobile users hone our eyesight and improve our proofreading skills.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

And, if there was a way to make the new theme a little lighter or transparent it would work better. I like it though. If it was a lighter shade of pale it would be very good.

Jessica said...

I love this new theme!! It looks great Janet!!

Hello, back again from lurking :) but OP, you are ME. My anxiety over querying got so terrible that I had a panic attack every time it was time to check my email. Like Janet said, it gets better. But, and this is very important, you must know yourself and what helps you. When my agent asked me how I wanted to receive information when we were on submission, I said I wanted to pretend it wasn't happening. No information unless it was good news. That worked wonders for me. How is sub going? I don't know! Ignorance truly is bliss haha. But you may be more comfortable knowing rejections as they come in, or once a month, what have you. I recommend thinking about what works for you and then asking for what you need. But rest assured, it gets better. You just have to take extra steps to protect yourself!

Congrats again on the full requests! Fingers crossed for you!!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

OP if you have all day every day through the roof "am I having a heart attack" anxiety, talk to your doctor. Maybe you're saying that for effect, I know we writers do that sometimes, but if you truly have anxiety like that, and it shows up in other portions of your life like that, please seek care. Because there are long term negative effects to having that level of sustained anxiety.

Arguably, I've got pretty blunted emotional responses for some/many things (my "is this scary" is kind of broken) but I do get some of those peaks and valleys, depending on the submission(s) that I have out, and what market they're in slush for. But not at that level. And these few years in, I'm a little bit inured to it. Some rejections disappoint me more than others but that's showbiz. I'm talking mostly about short story submissions here.

For some reason, querying for me was less anxious? Maybe because it's sending out a teaser vs. people having the whole work to review in their hands? So maybe that's how I got over submission/waiting anxiety, but saturating myself on shorts. And by starting to self pub novellas.

Beth Carpenter said...

Love the new background, all those sneaky little lures and hooks among the fishes.

OP, like others I use food, but exercise would be much healthier and more effective. I understand the anxiety. Will they like it? Will they hate it? What if I'm not as good a writer as I think? What if...

You need to remind yourself this story is only one of many you have written and will write, and writing is only a part of who you are. Yes, it's an important part, but your worth as a human doesn't depend on whether an agent chooses to offer representation. You've written a book, and that's pretty awesome. Try to enjoy the process and find a technique to distract yourself while you wait, because there's a lot of waiting involved. Best of luck to you!

Claire Bobrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Stegman said...

Great topic, as I can relate. As for the new background, I agree with some others that it's challenging to read the grey type.

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats on the full requests, OP! I hope you can tame that anxiety, though. The world needs writers and we want to keep you around. I like the idea of Lennon's push-ups and Fearless Reider's bike desk. Pound that anxiety into submission! And move on to your next project. Good luck!

Karen McCoy said...

Loving the new theme also, but have to chime in with the masses to say that it is indeed very hard to read on mobile.

I've had a fair share of anxiety with my recent middle grade project--I am terrified to show it to people. However, when I do, the responses have generally been positive. I'm especially terrified (TERRIFIED) that I will, like my other manuscripts, query too soon. My goal is January, but who knows what will happen?

On top of the usual anxiety that comes with writing, I have generalized anxiety disorder (yippee) that I take medication for. When my heart does what you describe, OP, I do a 4-5-7 count. Inhale for four. Hold for 5. Exhale for 7. Repeat. I also do yoga. I like a particular YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene. She recently did an episode called Yoga for Writers

Kari Lynn Dell said...

My go-to for anxiety of all kinds is books and podcasts. Read, read, READ. Listen to audiobooks when it keeps you up at night, or when you're driving. Podcasts like Writing Excuses or Smart Bitches or true crime or any of a million subjects, and they don't even have to be related to your subject matter or in your genre. You will be amazed where you might find inspiration. There are lines in my western contemporary romances that were inspired by conversations on astrophysics. But most of all, READ, because it will take you out of your own headspace and make you a better writer, and that's some pretty awesome multi-tasking right there.

Even better, you get struck by a bolt of inspiration so powerful that it blows submission book right out of your brain and demands that you dive into Next Project.

and if that fails, I binge-watch the Gilmore Girls. A lot to be learned there about characterization and dialogue and my husband is now an expert on teenage girl angst even though we don't own one, which makes him very popular with my niece.

Sadly no, the anxiety does not go away. It is a side effect of pouring your heart and soul into a project, and I don't think anyone here would recommend that you learn to care less about your writing. The good news is if you do sign a multi-book contract you get to trade in this type for 'OMG can I actually pull this off again?"

So basically there's a reason writers are notoriously twitchy and tend to drink.

Alena said...

OP here. Thank you all for your compassion, empathy, and support. It's good to know I'm not alone! When I tell the normal people (non writers) in my life that I'm experiencing some pretty intense anxiety, they give me blank stares or suggest I have no reason to be anxious because of course I'm going to be the next J K Rowling (eyeroll). I'm glad I reached out to shark infested waters. I truly appreciate all the suggestions. Thank you!

Barbara Etlin said...

Love the new theme! But I agree that the mobile version is hard to read. If it were changed from grey to white, like the headings, it would be fine.

The yoga breathing that someone above suggested really does work. I wear a Fitbit, and I can see that my heartrate goes down right away. Other things that relieve anxiety for me are: soothing music (I have a separate playlist of this, also useful for insomnia), meditation (there are apps available, some of which are free), and watching Bogie movies.

Also, as someone else suggested, if the anxiety is that bad maybe you should ask your doctor for advice. You think it's psychological--that makes sense--but it could be something physical causing it.

Good luck!

Brenda said...

For Rejections, I put on my best Tyra voice and say, “So sorry, you are no longer in the running to become America’s Next Top Agent.”
For Requests of all lengths I say, “Congratulations, you’re still in the running to become America’s Next Top Agent.”
For Revisions, I do my best work and then try not to pester America’s Next Top Agent.

OP, it helps if you are writing the next book. Get immersed in it to remind yourself that you aren’t a one shot wonder. A friend yesterday told me to hang up a sign that says, ‘It’s always like this!’
Best of luck.

Theresa said...

Congratulations, Unknown, on getting this far! I hope we get to celebrate your agent signing soon.

Yes, there will always be anxiety, but if you can keep your mind on the work, you'll be able to manage it.

I love Janet's new background.

Adib Khorram said...

It's been my experience that there will always be new things to be anxious about in this industry. Knowing why you're doing what you're doing can make all the difference in the long run. What defines worth? Is it money? Notoriety? Hearts touched? Minds changed? The answer differs for us all. But knowing that answer will let you gauge whether the pain is worth the payoff.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Adib, Our little library has your book and I loved it!
Also the food in it.

JulieWeathers said...

OP, congratulations on your requests. That's always thrilling and a good sign. I had about a 35% request rate with Far Rider, my high fantasy, which was encouraging.

What do you do while you're waiting? Start a new project. I started a Civil War historical I've been wanting to write for a long time. It's done now and I'm waiting on my final beta readers and a last revision before it goes out on query.

When RC goes out, I'll finish another historical about cowgirls.

You don't sit around and wait for the email to twitch like a cat at a rathole.

Rejections will come in. It's inevitable. Don't let them get you down. Rejection is part of the journey. Dejection is a choice. As long as I'm smelling roses and not fertilizing them, I'm not going to give up and neither should you regardless of what happens.

Craig F said...

Congrats on the partials, Unknown, I am hoping that exercise and hobbies will keep me from going further nuts. My regular income is also a cause for anxiety, so I might be fine, but if you figure it out first, let me know. I am going to continue pushing until I get there too.

Hobbies include a bicycle, fishing , kayaking and kayak racing. The fishing allows me to feel an affinity to the new theme. I have caught both catfish shown, the bass and bream are local fish. I occasionally get up to places to catch the brook trout shown.

The lures are an Adam's dry fly, two wet flies, the deceiver and the woolly bugger. Two regular fishing lures, the Mepps Agila spinner and the Johnson spoon.

Maybe I am a little a little anxiety too.

Jen said...

Congrats, OP, and hang in there. My father and I suffer from GAD, and the doctor once explained it like this: "your body can't tell the difference between anxiety and excitement."

So... maybe all this excitement is something that will begin to abate after a while? Honestly, getting request for fulls is so awesome. If you can, try and separate your anxiety from your excitement and bask in the awesomeness. I hope you get a great agent and your book get picked up!! :)