Wednesday, September 4, 2013

All the parts of me want different things from my writing but I really don't have a concrete plan

Well, it's been almost a year since I subbed my fantasy novel to the Harper Voyager open call, and everything that I can gather from online forums suggests that the editorial staff at HV has winnowed the 4500+ entrants down to less than 400. There hasn't been an update since May on HV's own site, but I expect one to pop up soon. So far, I am still in. It's exciting to think that I am in the top 10%. I suppose there's also that nail-biting insecurity that comes from checking my email every day (as I've done for the last eleven months). One goes through the paces of asking the big question "what if?" a lot.

For example, I ask myself if I would change as a person. Do I really need the validation that would come from a multiple book contract with a Big Five publisher? The answers are ambiguous at best. Yes, I might change because I've felt like a loser most of my life and the sudden success of "hey I'm actually good at something" might make me gloat when I don't mean to. A different part of me looks at all the perceived setbacks I've embraced in the seasons of my life. It's that section that's been beaten down by the reality of life and would just be thankful for a cold glass of water and a spot of shade when halfway across the Sahara desert.

Maybe the key here is to not get one's hopes too high, but it grows increasingly more difficult with each passing day and a shrinking number of those who remain in the pile. They are taking just 12 authors from that open call and making it as far as I have gives me roughly a 10% chance to get in the money. I would just welcome the opportunity to be published by HV as an interesting opportunity filled with all kinds of possibilities. And there's also another part that would be comfortable with yet another rejection. It's a part that says I'm pretty comfortable being where I am as a writer and "no thanks, I'll pass on the external validation. I already know I'm awesome."

So yeah. Insecurity at this point means that all the parts of me want different things from my writing. I guess I have stories to tell just like all of you, but I really don't have a concrete plan. I'm just trying things. It seemed like a good idea to sub to Harper Voyager 11 months ago, and it still feels like a good idea now. I'm just waiting for the shoe to drop.

32 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

Some of those things are really difficult to know until (or unless) they happen. I'm pretty against traditional publishing in principle at this point, but I tried to be honest with myself and figure out how much it would take to get me to accept a traditional publishing contract. I couldn't come up with a number.

Elise Fallson said...

I remember when you first wrote about the HV open call. Has it already been a year? Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Just don't let the shoe fall on you.
You've set yourself on a mental tightrope. You don't need the validation. Really. But of course, if they offered you a contract, then that would rock.
Just remember, either way you still win!

Brinda said...

Being in the top 10% is AWESOME. Congrats on staying in the pick so far. I'm crossing my fingers for you. :)

Charity Bradford said...

I think you could gloat for a while without anyone getting annoyed. Heck, I'd sure do something to celebrate. Here's to hoping you get the chance.

I totally get the whole "I don't have a concrete plan". Every week my plans change a bit. Making plans seems to be my way of trying to hide the fact I'm making this up as I go, but isn't that what we're supposed to do as authors? Make things up. :)

If the shoe does drop, try it on. Who knows, you might get a really nice pair of shoes out of this.

L.G. Smith said...

That's fantastic that you're in the top 10%. You may not need the validation on some level, but on all the others, hell yes!

Pat Dilloway said...

The top 10% means 90% are beneath you. So there.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

There is nothing wrong with hoping, that's for sure, no matter what it's for. I wish you the best of luck, and if it doesn't work out, I still think you're awesome anyway. You always have been. :)

Johanna Garth said...

I totally understand wanting that validation. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you!

Yolanda Renee said...

Yes, yes, yes, top 10% amazing! Celebrate, I say you're almost there and so close no matter the outcome, you've won!

Happy IWSG Anniversary!

Congratulations!

Morgan said...

Of COURSE you're in the top 10%! That's just you, Michael. I find it so interesting how inside we can feel so insecure, but outside, others perceive us as confident and fine. In my eyes, you've got it, Michael. You've got awesome books out and a brilliant mind. You are absolutely Big Five worthy--easy. Now it's just down to luck and timing.

(And heh, if you got a Big Five deal, I would fully support you gloating a little bit ;))

I'm excited for you. Just to get this far is amazing. Truly. And I'm not a fan of the word "deserve" but I can use it here and say you *deserve* this. :)

Stephen Hayes said...

You seem to have a handle on your expectations but it probably isn't possible to not be hopeful. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. It's a waiting game and I know with your writing skill and determination it's only a matter of time until you're discovered in a big way. Take care.

M Pax said...

I think you're awesomely good validation or not. It'd be great to cheer you on if it happens, but it's great to cheer you on either way.

GranTurismo Driver said...

Nice post, great blog, following :)

Good Luck :)

River Fairchild said...

It's hard to ignore the little voice that says I need the external validation to really feel good about my writing, even though mostly I don't want anything to do with trad pub. Writers have all sorts of insecurities. I think you're awesome, no matter what. :)

Laura/River

Liz Blocker said...

Oh man, I can't believe you've been waiting for a YEAR! That's like torture. No, wait, it isn't LIKE torture, it IS torture. No wonder you feel torn in a hundred different directions. I wish I could help you by making HV pick your book, but since I don't, alas, have superhuman powers, I'll just say good luck!!! And hang in there - I can't think of anything more normal and understandable than how you're feeling!

Julie Flanders said...

Congrats on making it to the top 10%! That's very exciting. I would be a total basket case checking my email over it!

Sarah Ahiers said...

Do you need the validation? Not at all. Would it be awesome? Fuck yeah. I mean, you've already made it super far, so that's some validation right there, but i'll continue to cross my fingers for you

J.L. Campbell said...

Hey, Mike,
It's wonderful knowing that you've made it this far, despite the agony of not knowing what's gonna happen.

Even if you're novel isn't selected, I think it says great things about your writing.

Hugs.

Liz A. said...

Once upon a time, one woman gave another woman a piece of advice. Woman 1 was worried what would happen when the other shoe dropped. Woman 2 told her to start literally dropping shoes. In effect, woman 2 was telling woman 1 that things were going to work out great, but she had to stop believing that things weren't.

Top 10% is great! If nothing else, this tells you that this book should be out in the marketplace, whether via a big publisher or not.

mooderino said...

Got my fingers crossed for you.

mood

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think it's only human to feel the way you do. I hope you get that email even though you really are already awesomely talented.

Helena said...

You are SO NOT a loser! Michael my dear, you are a damn fine writer with a wild imagination, and while it would certainly feel great and like validation if you made it to the very tip-top in this winnowing process, you really must bear in mind that you really already have made it. You're published (and indie publishing is so legit, I'm here to tell you) and you're very successful as a writer/blogger/friend.

Yeah, like you I know only too well what it's like to feel beaten down by life, but how much of that is because you and I have set high standards for ourselves? So sometimes I lower the bar I've subconsciously set and give myself a break. You should too.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

A contract with a big 5 publisher would have definitely been in my plans as well, until I did my research and realized I did not write the kinds of books these guys would take at all. Was I going to change my writing interests to fit into a specific mold? No, and I'm happy with how things played out. Just keep writing and don't worry too much about outcomes!

Christine Rains said...

Good luck! My fingers are crossed for you. You are a fantastic writer. None of us should need that external validation, but I understand wanting it. Part of me wants it just to prove something to myself. Yet I do like the challenge and flexibility of self-publishing.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Hope you get picked. Glad you looked at it from both sides Mike.

Cindy said...

Waiting on any submission is always torturous. Good luck!

Rusty Webb said...

Great job. I got through a huge cut like that at Angry Robot a couple of years ago during their window of open submissions. It destroyed me when I eventually got rejected. I hope you get published by them.

Cathrina Constantine said...

You're going through a nail-biter time. A year is a long time to wait and to be patient, which I'm not, but writer's have to be right? Either way it's darn remarkable to reach the top, keeping fingers and toes crossed!

Theresa Milstein said...

Michael, that's truly amazing. What a long time to wait, but what positive validation for your work. I am hoping for you. The publisher would be lucky to have someone like you in their catalog.

Michael Pierce said...

Getting in the top 10% of 4500 submissions is a great accomplishment. The books you've released in your series so far are huge accomplishments. The following and success of your blog is a wonderful accomplishment. You've accomplished a lot as an author thus far...and I'm confident there's much more success in your very near future.

Callie Leuck said...

Sounds like you need a hug. Here's one: *hug*

It's being sent via Internet, however, so it might take a bit of time to get there, depending on your internet speed.