Monday, September 5, 2011

On Blogging the Journey

My name is LupLun, and I'm a starving artist.

For the record, noone sets out to be a starving artist. Well, some unbearably pretentious types might, but they're probably more interested in sponging off gainfully-employed parents and smoking pot. The first thing any artist wants to do is make at least enough from his art to keep food on the table. No, you become a starving artist either because you're not very good, you can't connect with your audience, or you can't connect with the people that are supposed to get you to your audience.

About six months ago, I finished my first novel, Bonds of Fenris. It's about a pack of werewolves desperately trying to control their bestial urges and keep hold of their humanity. I then set out to find an agent, a task which continues to this day and which I have utterly and completely failed at. I've queried about 30 different agencies. If that seems low for a six-month agent search, it's because I wasn't querying constantly. The whole "starving" part means a day job, which means not a lot of time. And when you're out of work, it means job hunting, which is even worse. But it's also low because about three months into this quest, I got demoralized. I would send out a batch of queries, and about a third of them never came back. The remainder were rejected: sometimes the same day, sometimes after months. I got two requests for the full manuscript, both of which eventually led to rejections as well. This causes a sense of hopelessness to build up, the idea that you're not getting anywhere and never will.

I don't know what the problem is. I have a number of theories, but no way to determine which is correct. When an agent rejects you, they tend not to give a lot of feedback. I don't blame the agents. They've got large workloads, and don't have time to compose letters detailing why the books they're asked to represent don't work. Especially when the rejected author will most likely be an egotistical, entitled prat who will then start an argument over how you Don't Understand His Masterpiece. But nevertheless, the problem remains: I don't know what's going wrong, and try as I might I can't figure it out. I believe that I am a decent writer at the very least, and that I could make a career out of it. But I can't seem to convince the people I need on my side that this is the case.

It's occurred to me that maybe I should stop trying. Maybe I should forget the runaround and dive bravely into the uncharted wilderness of self-publishing. I'm fully aware, though, that this approach has problems all its own. You're playing without a net, taking all the responsibilities on yourself and taking sole blame if it fails. It could make me a career, or it could prove I'll never have one.

I am a storyteller, and this blog is a story that is still being written. In the end it will be one of three stories. It will be the story of a man who took one last shot at his dream, and finally made it. Or it will be the story of a man who, frustrated with an industry that stymied his attempts at success, struck out on his own and proved to a skeptical world that he had what it took. Or it will be the story of a man who tried his best to succeed both inside and outside the system, failed on both counts, and finally abandoned his dream in disillusionment. I don't know which it will be, but all of them start the same way: with that last grab for the brass ring.

Today is the 5th of September, 2011. Labor Day. The end of summer, and the time to get back to work. For the next three months, I'll be querying. If I haven't succeeded by Thanskgiving, then it's time to go independent. And what happens then, I don't know.

Let's you and I find out together.


  1. Well you know how I feel about the self-publishing route, but I wish you good luck! Fingers crossed for something within the next three months!

  2. I wish you good luck as well. Self-publishing might be tricky, but it is still an option. Just don't give up on your dream!

  3. Yes, Cyna, I'm familiar with your bad experiences with self-published novels. But the thing is, I can't get by just working menial office work like I am now. Sure, I could keep plugging on the traditional front for two, three years and things might eventually go my way, but right now I have a short-term cash flow situation, and that might mean taking risks. I don't like playing without a net any more than you would, but you can't just sit around waiting for your metaphorical prince or princess forever, especially when the bills have to get paid.

    In any event, thanks to both of you for your support! ^_^

  4. Good luck - to be honest, I wouldn't recommend self-publishing until you've exhausted the other options, but there are plenty of people who can give better advice than me! About diagnosing the problem... Have you tried taking either your query letter or ms to a writing group? (Or, say, AbsoluteWrite's Query Hell?)


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