I'm terribly new to all of this, but, on a whim, I started looking at different websites for literary agents yesterday, and have spent the vast majority of the last 24 hours--through sleep deprivation and the incessant buzzing of the fire alarm in dark, dank scary basement of my rental that is the dungeon horror films are made of (and therefore I refuse to go down there and turn it off)--looking at literary blogs, writers' workshops, editors' blogs, writing community websites, etc.
This has all caused me to realize a few things about the trilogy I've been working on for a year and that I need to change (e.g., *hook your reader on the first page*, which I think I fail at terribly). While I have two people currently reviewing book one for me (and yes, they're friends, but see below as to why), I think I need to go back and completely rewrite chapter 1 of book 1, making it more of the "show" and less of the "tell". Somehow I am a lot more aware of this everywhere else in the 425,000 words, but this first chapter somehow keeps avoiding the big red correction pen.
The second thing I've realized is that now is probably not the best time to work on my marketing skills. I'm taking my PhD exams this fall, and I know I'll need to put a lot of effort into that, as well as my summer class and that darned incomplete I have from December. Of course, I've spent the last month of my summer working on, what? Oh, that's right. None of the above. Instead, I've just cuddling up with my new computer and writing at the work that doesn't pay me.
And, finally, I've realized that I'm terrified of the whole huge process of selling myself and my work. I like my work (mostly... on the good days), but that doesn't mean that anyone else will. The fact of it is that, in a shameful, shameful effort to build my own self-esteem about my work, I've given draft copies of the first few chapters of book one to about a half-dozen people. To date, only two have read past chapter 10 (there are 28 in book 1 alone, I might add), one of whom is one of the two people currently reviewing it for me. While this does wonders for my self-esteem (here, let me give you a rag to clean up that dripping sarcasm), my confidence level in my work is far from high at the moment.
A few weeks ago, on a whim of advice--*always have a minimum of two projects at once*--I started another story which consumed my life for eight days (the story that I'm slowly posting here). I sincerely needed a break from Anabelle and Marcus (the protagonists of my trilogy), and took it eagerly. After a couple of weeks, I felt ready, reinvigorated, and I went back, making the final revisions to A&M #1 to send it off for review. I moved on to A&M #2, fleshing out what had been 110,000 words of "semi-showing" into 140,000 of "telling", including inserted chapters for character development and extended dialogues.
But now, on the epilogue of A&M #2 (these novels do have names, btw, though I sincerely dislike them at the moment and have no interest in committing them to the ether that knows and remembers all), I'm stuck again. It hasn't been six weeks since I spent so long working on the wedding story, and I'm frustrated that my momentum has run dry. I know that taking a break is healthy, and I'm not a writing super-hero. Honestly, I should be proud of what I have and that I churned out the bare-bones of it so quickly (though that just means more revisions now and later). But still, my confidence is low.
I will mention, though, that I entered a contest for a consultation with literary agent Nathan Bransford in celebration of the release of a client's book. My confidence isn't necessarily high enough to think I'll win, or even make it into the finalists, but I entered. Yesterday my confidence was low enough that I almost didn't enter, but I forced myself to do it, drawing from A&M #3 from one of the six chapters of action that come after a very central event (for give my vagueness). I won't know which 500-word snippets made finalists until Friday.
So keep your fingers crossed for me (whoever you are, if you're out there). Even if I don't make the finalists, something has to come my way soon to raise a wave of confidence in me again.