I researched and wrote my book proposal during the warm summer months at a table under the pine trees… blue skies, earth-scented breeze, the occasional car/truck ambling down the unpaved road as the driver waved amiably because in Idaho everyone waves at everyone… I wrote. And rewrote. And re-read and revised. I read the agent’s web site in detail, bought and read every book-proposal-preparing book they suggested, bought and read many books pertaining to bookselling so I could add a detailed marketing plan to my wondrous proposal… I worked harder than I’d ever worked at any writing project in my life, including writing the book itself! I sent it to my eagle-eyed friend to proofread/edit and she made great suggestions and I included all of them. I went through the same process for the cover letter. No document in living memory ever went through so many versions as that cover letter. I chose the clear-cover presentation folder, ever-so-carefully hole-punched all the pages, and inserted them carefully into said folder. I remembered the letter-sized SASE. I drove my book proposal to the post office and placed it in a most-excellent large envelope and… mailed it. That was two weeks ago. It seems like two years.
And in those two weeks, I’ve been trying to get my mind off the ceiling and coax it into focusing on something else. Writers often talk about being afraid to send off proposals, the hardball hit to the stomach when a rejection letter arrives, the endless waiting to hear back. But finding other mental employment in that interim? Geez. I have wrested my heart away from the window and guided my feet away from unnecessary trips to the mail box, and have started polishing a script for a play I’d like to do next year. But it was hard to switch gears!
Finishing a book and sending the proposal are the two most anticlimactic things on God’s earth. They take such commitment and emotional energy, and they both end in… waiting. I realize I want a RESULT! Results are long in coming, and when they arrive, they might not be the ones I want. This is one of those times when “enjoy the journey” truly applies, because after the journey of writing, there is a long empty interim before the destination of publication comes into view. And you know what? I DID enjoy the journey! I’m proud of myself for having completed it (thus far) and I am proud of you – all of you – for doing so as well.
Evidently, being a writer takes more than writing. It takes courage.
If prospective agents ever read these posts, I’m doomed. They’ll order extra alligators for the moat. Ever since I decided to write a cover letter and book proposal, my freelance writing assignments found a stray Viagra tablet somewhere and multiplied like happy little rabbits. I need the income, of course, but I am completely unhorsed (alligators, rabbits, horses – ye gods) as to my original goal. Now I wouldn’t share my brain scatterdom with just anyone, you understand. Only with you, my fellow salmon, leaping and straining to make it upstream in the publishing process. (Add salmon … at this point, why not?)
Right now, I am sitting outside in spring/summer sunshine beneath an indecisive sky. Birds have trees for chat rooms and they are discussing life at eloquent length all around me. I’m sitting at a round plastic table beneath the pines, my laptop connected by an infinite extension cord. Thunderstorms appear, thunder and storm, and disappear with unpredictable suddenness here, so I could be a literary lightening rod right now but is any risk too great to take for one’s book?
I will now attempt to summarize my book in 40 words. Not here, in this blog – but after I post this. Why not now? Because the 40-word summary only exists in conversation to friends when I explain that I can’t write it. Suddenly, there it is! And I frantically enquire, “What did I just say? Do YOU remember it?” “Um, of course,” they reply supportively, “You said …” and then they amble off into a long discourse, paraphrasing the aforespoken 40 words in about 2,000, which is what I do every time I try to write it. Wish me luck.
I’m just starting the process of writing a book proposal. I’d rather be dragged to the top of the Himalayas by a crazed Sherpa and eat beans with an ice pick. I’m telling you, writing a book is the EASY part. I knew what I wanted to write, I ensconced myself in a view table at Starbucks and sat there with a pen, a yellow pad and a mindful of memories and lessons learned that I wanted to share. Easy. Fun. Now? Ye gods either Greek or Roman, I have books, I have multi-page step-by-step printouts, I have 10 easy ways, 20 simple ways, not to mention 14 foolproof ways and the top 5 ways to write query letters, cover letters for the book proposal, and the book proposal itself – a multi-level, multi-page, multi-faceted gargantuan maze of facts, story summary, exhaustive marketing and personal promotion which will astound the publisher, enthrall the agent, mesmerize the entire publishing committee and make me immortal, in print. In this document, I must share how I will market my book to at least 10,000 people and get endorsements from hugely successful authors whom I do not know. Um, okay. I have ordered three books on promoting books. At least someone is selling books from this process! It isn’t me yet…
The book was easy. Now I’m mentally doing the “circle of death” that my computer does when I ask too much of it too quickly. Break. I need a break. I need courage. Where is the Wizard of Oz when you need him? I need coffee, I need … No. Wait. I am a committed, highly focused professional. I will … binge-watch NCIS for a few hours…NO! Yes. Um …