1 in 6,000

What if someone told you that your chances of winning the lottery were 1 in 6,000? You don’t even have to pay cash to play! The cost of entry is simply two years of your time, part of your sanity, and oh yeah, a piece of your soul. How do you feel about the odds now?

The chances of landing a literary agent are estimated to be 1 in 6,000. The best book agents get upwards of 1,500 queries per MONTH. They will only sign a handful of clients per year. Other writers say you’re getting close when you’ve had a handful of full manuscript requests. “It just needs to get in front of the right eyes!” and “You just have to keep going!”

Agents that request are first wowed by your query letter. Then they have to love the sample pages. Then they spend the time and energy to read through the projects that they think have potential, and if you’re lucky, they give you feedback along with their pass. That is the best an author can hope for until they get the fateful email that offers representation.

I’ve had full requests on manuscripts since 2015. Does trying for 7 years still mean I’m close? Yet I still get my hopes up every time I send one off. “This is it! I’m going to be let into the promised land of publishing!” What is the deal with this ever-loving HOPE that keeps me doing this? Rationally, I know the odds. What amount of writer’s hubris do I possess that makes me think I deserve to be the one?

I shelved Hedge Dancer this week. The full manuscript was rejected (with very kind and thoughtful feedback) by a lovely agent and I’m feeling rather down about it, if you can’t tell by the previous four paragraphs in this post. I will no longer be pitching that project and it will reside in my metaphorical desk drawer until when and if I ever decide to revisit it.

I’m pouring all my energy into this next project. Word count update: I am 31,000 words in. Around 50k left to go. Then I’ll edit. And write a query letter. Then I’ll research agents. Send it out. And hope.

Damnit.

Love,

Taylor

Sometimes we gotta keep on dancing

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

I’ve been hit hard by August melancholy this week and the singular beauty that briefly encompasses the end of summer and the beginning of fall. It’s such a small window of transition where we all hold our breath and wait, suddenly realizing that those endless summer nights have subtly gotten shorter, and the mornings need a sweatshirt.

Over the past five years, September has marked the start of hurricane season. Fall meant checking the hurricane update every day and knowing in our guts an evacuation was coming. The heat held on as long as possible, remaining well into the 80’s through Halloween some years. Even back before we had the boat, California also liked to skip autumn.

But this window reminds me to pause, instead of pushing forward through each change like I usually do. It isn’t just suspension, however, I am actually being brought back in time. I don’t know if it is because I’m writing my first YA novel, or the temperature drop over Labor Day weekend always meant back to school, but I don’t feel like a 32-year-old mother of two.

Instead of sending my own four-year-old off to school this week, I half-expect to walk out the front door and find my little gold 1995 Honda parked in the driveway, pom poms in the back window. I am forever sixteen in September, spending my Friday nights under the bright lights of a stadium. My nose is numb but my body is warm, cheering on a team everyone knows is not very good but we do it anyway.

I have no desire to relive these years. Once was enough! But this time of year seems to have brought back the memories with a poignancy I had not expected. I choose to think of it as a little visit from my former self, and maybe I’ll get to see her every September from now on. Maybe she’ll be proud to see what changes each year brings me, and I’ll greet her memory as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go season everything in my life with pumpkin spice.

Love,

Taylor (Conor, W, and R, too!)