Writer's block hit me for real last night.
Granted, it had been a long day, and I was taking off on a tangential project for which I hadn't invested any planning time. It's not surprising, then, that the extent of my writing last night consisted of opening a fresh, white, clean document in Word and setting the style to double-space, 12pt. Times New Roman, first line indent. I typed a couple of characters, and then deleted them, and finally went to bed.
On a note that will be more clearly related in a moment, I received my first note of rejection yesterday. My first! The bubble is burst, the cherry gone. I have now been rejected, and by no less than an agent--a partner, at that--at the agency that represents the goddess of fantasy herself, Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Boy, I got conflicting emotions from that.
First, it wasn't really a rejection. The polite e-mail merely said that he's not working with brand new authors in my genre right now. Okay, I guess it was a rejection, just not a personal one. When I get e-mails or letters saying that I'm not good enough for them, or that my novel stinks, or that I need to lose some weight and work out a bit before they'll talk to me, that'll be personal. For now, though, a "hey, I'm not interested in the category you represent," is pretty painless.
Painlessness aside, it's still a no. I've now heard back from one of eleven agents I queried. That's nine percent. It only leaves ten who might say yes. My stalwart friends on Facebook have pointed out that many great and now-famous works required far more than eleven no's before they hit a yes. "The Help was rejected 60 times," one said. Yeah, thanks. The words are inspirational and all, but I can't help it. I want it now. Now, now, now, now, now. I know what others have gone through, and I know that my desire is unrealistic, but it doesn't keep me from wanting it. Now.
All things considered, then--yeah, it's my first rejection. I'm not torn up about it by any means, but I'm still looking forward to a yes which might take, based on the data my friends posted to my Facebook page, a few years to find.
That thought process led me to a "what do I do now?" I mean, I'm a practical sort of man, and so I'm not going to start limbering up my book-signing hand just yet. I've heard it's important to have a work in progress, in progress, while you wait to hear back. I've got Book 2 written and needing revision, but it hardly seems worth it to polish that book when I'm still waiting to sell the first. I've also got my success book to finish, but I'm tabling that until I get through this process and can then focus on building the requisite platform for non-fiction.
Short story time. Short stories are easier, they say, to get published than are novels, at least for the first-timer. They also have their place in the training repertoire of a writer-in-training; George R.R. Martin says that a novelist should focus on developing his or her craft on short stories before even trying to write a novel. Most importantly, once there's a short story out in a reputable magazine under the name Evan Koenig, I'll no longer be a brand new, unpublished author. Thus, it really makes sense for me to write a short story or three.
That decision made--which short story? I've got a couple of ideas--solid ones, I think--for paranormal stories having absolutely nothing to do with the world that is Matt, Crystal, and Sorscha, but something is nagging at me, telling me to try to get them out there. There's plenty of story, both pre and post Cataclysm, sitting in my head waiting for a short. Only problem is: what?
Thus began my long evening spent watching the pixels on my monitor give off light. They really do twinkle if you stare at them hard enough.
This morning, I decided to do what Stephen King suggested in On Writing: go for a walk. Hey, it's something I've been meaning to do anyway, and in this case it really did help. By the time I was back, I had a decent idea for a story. Now, keep in mind that I'm being very picky; the short story has to stand on its own; it shouldn't refer to the book in any way. People who read it have to just enjoy it for the story that it is, a tale about Matt, Stacy, and Sorscha. Only later, once they've read both it and the book, will they realize that the one is back story for the other.
I hope, anyway.
It's a tall order, but after the walk I was able to put in about 500 words. I'm still thinking on it, and I believe that by the weekend I'll have a pretty decent bit of short fiction. Science fiction, in this case.