This week, while most writers are busy with the madness that is NaNoWriMo, I'm going to be busy with a different kind of madness: querying.
Because I've been participating in Pitch Wars, I'm waiting to query until after the agent round (which is this week!). In some ways, this is a terrific place to be: I've got a story that I've polished and loved and gotten great feedback on--and I haven't yet been inundated with rejections (though there have been a few). I can still dream big.
It would be easy to stop at this point, to celebrate my hard work and move on to the next story. But there's not really much value in that. If I'm serious about writing--and I am--then I have to move onward. That means putting my work out there and taking any feedback that might come in (hard as it will be to hear it) and keep trying to improve.
I won't lie, I'm not looking forward to the rejections. But every writer faces them. Agent Holly Root posted on twitter a week or so ago that she's never sold a book that hasn't been rejected at some point.
As a teacher, I know that my students don't improve as writers without critical feedback. And I've learned that as a writer I don't either. When I first got the five-pages of feedback from my Pitch Wars mentor (Virginia Boecker, who has an amazing looking book coming out in May), I was a little heart sick. I thought she'd picked my book because it was good, and yet there was so much I still needed to fix!
I let the feedback sit for a couple of days and when I came back to it I was astounded to find that she was right. I took her ideas, applied them to the novel, and while it may not be perfect yet, it is much, much better. I'm indebted to her for the time she took to give me feedback, even if it was initially hard to hear.
I'm hoping to take this attitude with me into querying and remember that rejections aren't (always) personal. Sometimes, they're just an opportunity to grow.