Keeping Promises To Myself

Keeping Promises To Myself

So, I promised myself earlier this week that I would send out at least two queries by the end of the week. It’s now Saturday evening, and I’ve not only kept that promise, but exceeded it — I’ve sent out six.

(I’ve also found several more jobs to apply for and started filling in various application forms, so I am adulting hard right now. Are you in awe yet? Because you should be in awe.)

This is despite the fact that, although I promised I wouldn’t, I reread the book midway through last week and immediately decided that I had to edit some parts of it again. I knew this would happen — I’m never satisfied — and I didn’t want to jeopardise my query chances by sending off a book that I wasn’t happy with, so I decided to make some changes. Some were tiny — a few word choices that I felt might be harmful or rude and, having learned more about certain issues, I thought should be changed. Some were slightly more major.

You see, the problem is that this is not a happy book. Nobody gets to be happy. Everybody’s life is terrible. That’s just how it is. This doesn’t exactly lend itself to having happy endings for LGBTQ+ characters, either, because the more sympathetic and well-developed a character is, the more they’re going to suffer, and since I tend to make my sympathetic characters queer, this leads to some obvious problems.

However, although numerous characters die and it was by no means a straightforward ‘bury your queers’ scenario, I was uncomfortable that a significant death in the novel was the only canonically trans character. I’ve been agonising over this one for weeks, and eventually decided the only solution was to remove the one piece of dialogue where she reveals that she’s trans. There was no way I could change the plot without majorly screwing things up, but her identity was only mentioned in one place, and had the potential to be more harmful than helpful.

In my head, nothing’s changed; I still headcanon her (and several other characters) as trans. But that feels less harmful than having a brief moment of representation that’s then snatched away, which could be hurtful to vulnerable readers, especially as I don’t think that scene particularly added anything to the story. Bad representation is worse than no representation, and there’ll be plenty of time in the future to write well-developed trans characters who get happy endings.

Going from “what if this character was trans instead” to “what if they’re ALL trans” in about two minutes flat

Also, in rewriting that scene, I managed to come up with a minor point about another character that actually fixed several other scenes by proxy, because it explained their motivations for a dozen other actions. So I managed to make it better on multiple levels, both with regard to plot and with regard to removing harmful tropes.

Anyway, after those edits, I mostly just focused on polishing the opening chapters. I really like chapters one and three, but two was weak, and since a lot of agents ask for three chapters, I needed to rewrite it. Others ask for thirty pages, which brings chapter four into the mix too, so I rewrote that as well. While I wait, I’m gradually going through and tightening up a few other descriptions,though I’m restraining myself from doing anything more major.

Like I said, I’d initially only planned to send out two queries this week. There were a few initial barriers to get past: first, I had to decide I was ready to do it, and second, I had to write a synopsis, because several of the agents I was most keen to submit to required a synopsis. However, since many of them asked for 500 words / a page / a ‘brief’ synopsis, once I’d written one, I was automatically ready to submit to a bunch of other places, and so once I’d got over those initial hurdles, it seemed easier to just carry on.

I use a different email address for writing stuff than I do for job applications, though, so now I have two inboxes to obsessively refresh. I’m going to need somebody to come and take my computer away from me at this rate.

But: I’m putting myself and my work out there, and hopefully with enough time left before I graduate that I’ll still have the chance to decorate my room in Cambridge with rejection letters (well… maybe not too many of them). I’m scared, of course I am. I’m paranoid about blowing my chances by accidentally misreading an agent’s submission guidelines, or by sending out a book before it’s ready. But to be honest, I don’t think it’s going to get more ready than this.

Also, I woke up at 7am, on a Saturday, and went to a ballet rehearsal, before baking cookies, cycling into town to Specsavers, cycling home, choreographing and practising a slip jig, making pizza, looking at job applications, going to a tea party, changing my sheets, and doing laundry. I am adulting SO HARD right now. And it’s exhausting, I don’t know how you guys do it.

Picture of freshly baked biscuits (cookies) on a tea towel
Gluten and dariy free biscuits! I was going to ice them, but then I was too lazy.

So, I kept my promise. What about you? Done anything scary or brave this week?

8 thoughts on “Keeping Promises To Myself

  1. Good on you Miriam, that sounds pretty full on but great! I have no idea how to edit tbh. The thing that makes me feel most like an adult is going to the bank (but then using my credit card terrifies me because I’m always scared it’ll be rejected even though my balance is fine). I guess the adult thing I’m doing this week is leaving my sister at university, where we’ll be living 800 kilometres from each other for the next three years. and next week I’ll be going myself. It’s all quite scary and I feel this pang od comvinged anxiety/excitement whenever I think of it

    1. Ugh, I hate having to sort out bank stuff, it’s always super intimidating. Though I’ve had a debit card since I was fifteen and I use it all the time, so I’m comfortable with that. It got rejected once or twice, not because I had no money but because my bank had locked my account due to “suspicious” activity, so that was pretty bad and I had to ring them up to find out what was going on but the phone number listed was one that was super expensive from mobile. So instead I tweeted at them and got them to ring me and they did 😂 Twitter is the best way to get customer service because it’s public and they don’t want to look bad!

      800km is a long way. My brother lives in Canada, so I sympathise! And uni is intimidating too. Is this your first year?

  2. Congratulations on getting so many out! Honestly, just looking at the list of all the things you’ve done in one day exhausts me. One of the things I’m working on that’s hardest is the idea that it’s better to regularly get on with life at 70% than doing bursts of 110% (or even 150%, which is closer to what you’re doing!) and having to crash for a couple of days. I hope you’re taking time to relax, even as you’re working in all of this crazy awesome adulting!

    1. Hahaha yeah I definitely crashed today. Yesterday was so full on that I spent today in my pyjamas halfheartedly doing my reading for a class this week (before heading out to dance in the evening because I’m a masochist). But my energy tends to come in bursts like that and I always want to make the most of it when I’ve got it — I know I’ll crash whatever happens, so I want to do as much as possible before I do! I’m an all or nothing kind of person…

      Thanks for reading :)

  3. Oh my goodness, you got a lot done!! Good for you! I hope all the responses are good. :D This week was kind of rough, but I met with the school counselor for the first time and might be getting a therapist, so overall? Pretty okay.

    1. That’s a VERY brave thing to do! I remember being terrified the first time I met with a counsellor. Good on you for taking that step — I hope it helps in the long run. :)

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