Previously on j’s Journey…
I have a theory. We attract people. All of us. All the time. We talk and tweet and blog and write, and we attract people. Best to attract people to the real me – not the neurotic, half-crazed me who worries about whether an agent will turn me down because I started a paragraph with a dependent clause. If an agent turns me down for that, I’m thinking we’re both better off.
I had no idea when I wrote that to all of you, the power it would have for me. I feel like a zealot, preaching the gospel of authenticity. Here’s the thing. There is a lot of advice out there – on how to write a novel, a query letter, a synopsis, a to-do list; how to find, woo, work with, and even break up with an agent; how to build a platform, self-promote, self-motivate, self-discipline, self-medicate. (Okay, that last one is actually my work in progress – it involves crayons, cheesecake and wine.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy all this wisdom is available, that people more experienced than I am are willing to share what they know. Some of it has been amazingly helpful to me, but sifting through it all has been exhausting and, frankly, counter productive.
My realization that it is in my best interest to be true to myself has been transformative. Honestly, I know right away what rings true for me and what doesn’t. Why waste time on the advice that makes me cringe? Why not listen carefully to the advice that resonates?
Which is exactly how I felt when I read a query letter featured in Chuck Sambuchino’s “Successful Queries” series. It didn’t follow the formula I’d been using. It was longer and more descriptive. It was personal and friendly; it talked about the novel’s themes in a way that felt natural… the way authors talk about their books. I loved it. Inspired, I rewrote my query. It no longer follows the rules I was trying to adhere to. It reflects me now. Me and my dark, quirky, sad, funny, infinitely hopeful novel. I have faith that the agent it attracts will be the right agent for me.
And so now I’m reading everything with a slightly more jaundiced eye. In fact, I’m not reading everything. There are certain methods of self promotion that don’t ring true for me, some tactics for platform building that make me uncomfortable. I’m trusting my instincts for now, my desire to form meaningful relationships with real people, some of whom are amazing writers and kickass creatives.
And… I’m having more fun.
How about you? How do you sift through all the advice out there… or do you? Have you stopped paying attention?
JUDY CLEMENT WALL is a freelance writer and Course Presenter for the Fear of Writing Online Course. She’s just finished her first novel, Beautiful Lives, and here at FoW is chronicling her quest to find a publisher. You can read more of her series here. Judy blogs about life, love, writing and cheesecake at Zebra Sounds.