Wednesday, February 16, 2005

To Market, To Market!

Within the next month, I hope to have my first novel, GRAY AREA, tweaked and ready to start submitting to prospective agents. I suppose I should be excited about this, but it's tough to be excited about playing the waiting game and the query-writing game and the anxiety-acid-reflux-fear-and-self-loathing game. For me, at least, they're all the same game. And, I have a feeling I'll continue to play them all so very well.

Right now, instead of exercising (let's not even go there), I'm sitting here in My Semi-New Office® listening to the alternative station on Comcast Rhapsody. Until yesterday, I didn't even realize I had access to this as a Comcast customer, but here I am today listening to a type of XM Satellite radio for my computer. It works great, so here's Finger Eleven blaring out of my computer speakers commercial-free.

It doesn't really lessen the angst of being a writer, but it does make it bearable to know there are other panicky, angsty people out there. Even if they are covered in tattoos and earning a lot more money than I am. (Honestly, how angsty can you be if you've got songs on the alternative hits stations across the country? Kinda like Stephen King saying he's suffering from low self-esteem. Give me a break.)

Where was I? Oh yes, writing.

GRAY AREA really only needs some tweaking of what is currently there, plus about two extra chapters of new material to flesh it out. I realize that, as it currently stands, it placed in the Top 20 of the Christian Writer's Guild's Operation First Novel contest this past summer, but I believe that it would have placed much higher if I had actually, like, sent in something I'd had time to reread at least once after writing it.

I'm good with deadlines, but just barely.

The goal for now is to get the fleshing out done in the next few weeks and get the whole thing tweaked and polished squeaky clean by mid-March. Then, it'll be time to start the heart-ripping, gut-wrenching, soul-searching self-torture known as marketing. (Can you tell I'm looking forward to this part?)

It's the supreme irony of the writing life that most writers don't tend to be given to self-marketing, and yet this is precisely what is expected of us. The competition is so fierce to climb up that slush pile that even the most introverted, shy, I'd-rather-sit-home-with-a-keyboard-than-use-those-free-tickets-to-the-Super-Bowl writer is expected to learn how to do it ... and do it well.

I'll be joining those ranks by this time next month. Granted, GRAY AREA in its current incarnation has already seen its first official rejection by a New York agent, so I'm not entirely out of the loop on what to expect. But, that was a unique situation this past summer. Now I'm at a point where I'm entering the stream uphill like a horny salmon in spring, fighting against the current and just knowing deep down that I'm going to end up lucky or dead. Or both, in that order.

Yeah, I sound plenty enthusiastic, don't I?

And, right now, I should stop whining about my lot in life NEXT month and get that tweaking done THIS month as I keep promising myself.

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Someone really ought to rewrite that for writers. Not me, though. I don't have the time. Or the self-esteem.