The Writer's Ego

The writer's ego is a dangerous thing.

Yes, we all like to daydream. And dreaming is essential for the writer's life -- imagination is the food for the writer's soul. But daydreams are different from expectations. The writer's ego demands certain expectations. No wonder writers -- successful or not -- are a generally depressed lot.

So, I've gotten an email from a prospective agent asking to read my whole manuscript. One week after I sent out my query. Woo hoo! I was elated. Upon sending her the manuscript, images start to dance in my head: The agent cries at the denouement of my book, congratulates me for writing such a heart-wrenching, compelling story, and offers to represent me right there. Then comes a book contract. Publication day. Book signing. Adoring fans. Book tours. Oprah. New York Times bestseller list. Movie rights.... I see stars and I really think that I am within reach!

Well, kiddo, it's nice to dream, but don't expect much. The publishing world is a very cut-throat one. Just because someone shows a slight interest in seeing what you've got doesn't mean you're going to be invited to the party.

The agent wrote back a few days later, saying, "I cannot connect with the material." Whatever that means. Reality can be a hard pill to swallow. I can only suspect that either she did not read the whole thing (given it was over a short weekend) or she only skimmed through it. And I assume that she was expecting something else (a romance novel, perhaps) and it turned out not to be. Anyway, the reason is not quite as important. The important thing is that I've learned. I've learned not have expectations. I still dream, but I don't expect anything to happen overnight. Fairytales do happen sometimes, but I being in one of them is unlikely.

I've learned to put aside my writer's ego, and objectively reevaluate my work, my approach, and my expectations. Here's my conclusion:

1. My book is good. Best thing I've ever written.
2. I have to approach this campaign differently. Time to be really professional and aggressive. And know that I can prevail. All I need is one agent, just one, to believe in me. It's all a number game.
3. By far the hardest thing to do: I've asked myself not to expect anything. Not to expect anything at all until the book is out in the bookstore. Don't expect miracles. Don't expect fairytales. Don't expect everyone will love the book. The only thing I know is that I believe in it, and someday, someone else will.

After a day or two of depression, what did I do? I dive back in, more energized than ever. It's a challenge for me. If I can't persevere, no one can help me.


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