Night of the Creeping Doubt

Posted: May 6, 2015 in Writing
Tags: , , , , ,


My daughter and I have been querying our book for only about three months. We’ve sent out a baker’s dozen queries. And out of those thirteen, we’ve only actually received six rejections. Plus one request for a full, still outstanding.

But still, mostly rejections. And that’s okay – we expected that. Except that we also have entered several pitch contests, and we’ve never gotten past the first round. I wrote about this experience a few weeks ago, but for some reason, this latest rejection and some comments we received on our latest version of our first page triggered something. Something I’ve never really faced before, not like this.

It triggered doubt.

I’m really questioning our entire opening, now, and I have started composing a new one. I have made changes to our first 250 words probably half a dozen times over the last couple of months, and my daughter keeps asking why. Mostly it’s been feedback – most of it very helpful – and my desire make the first 250 as hook-y as possible. To get past that first round in the next contest. But also because these most recent comments pointed out that the entire concept of my opening scene is flawed. I won’t go into why, but this means that I am cutting it and going back to the drawing board.

But here’s the thing about doubt. It doesn’t go away just because you do something about the think you have doubts about – it hangs around and outstays its welcome, and makes you question everything you do after that, too. In other words I’m doubting the new stuff, too.

I think I’ll just sit on this for a few days, then haul it out and look at it again. Who know; this doubt may have caused me to abandon a perfectly good opening, and all of this new effort is unnecessary.

If nothing else, it will have been a good exercise.

  1. Totally hear you, John. No responses are bad. Form letters are bad. Personal responses of no are no fun either. Don’t give up, though! That’s what I keep telling myself. I keep getting bad news and no news (more “no response means no” than anything, and I’m going bonkers on that one.) Then something comes along to encourage me, and I get right back in the saddle.

    People are loving what they’ve heard of your novel on WriterPitch, from what I’ve seen. You got a personal response, so that means they think your project has merit. Why else would they take the time to respond with advice?

    I hope things start looking up for us both 🙂 Thanks for being honest and open about this. Some people (myself included) can be afraid to show discouragement in a public way. What we don’t realize is that we’re not alone. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel your pain – personally – because the experience is so familiar. Doubt comes with the job because there is no such thing as perfection. You’ve actually experienced very few rejections in the grand scheme of things. And a request for a full is truly outstanding. Celebrate that and trust your work.

    Liked by 1 person


    you have never,never,never ever been crazy. I like your own comments on your work..don’t doubt.


  4. Keep at it, John. Those doubts come with our territory. And so much of publishing is influenced by outside forces – what s “hot” right now, what other books are on a publisher’s list, etc – that we can’ take rejection too personally. Fight the doubt. Believe in yourself and your work. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] stage. I’ve written a lot here about entering these contests and not get chosen and what that feels like and what it means and how to deal with […]


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