escher stairs


Before you read another word, a word of caution: Today’s post is nothing like my previous post. Today’s post is a self-indulgence of the highest order; a pity-party with Yours Truly, the honored (perhaps, only) guest.

Having said that, if you do read this, please don’t feel sorry for me. And if, after you read this, you begin to feel that uncomfortable itch to offer forth a few obligatory words of wisdom/virtual hug/kick in the ass, or any other such commiseration, believe me, there is no need. Today’s post is undeserving/quite sickening/wholly self-serving. Honestly, I seriously doubt today’s post will be of any use to you, me, or anyone else. Self-pity rarely is.

Self-pity rarely gets anyone anywhere at all.

*  *  *

This morning, whilst sipping my coffee and surfing the net, I stumbled across an odd little  blog post written back in 2011. The author–a librarian, apparently–had recently visited an art show which featured a selection of works by  Escher, a fact she (?) deftly segued into the post’s topic: the correct spelling of the root “repetit*”, as opposed to “repitit*”, which, apparently, is an extremely important distinction to librarians everywhere, relative to quickly locating correct information based on said root, via digital card catalogs (I think, and to which I said, WTF? and also, Huh?)

Then, I remembered that my own aforementioned post had broached a similar topic, e.g. the importance of research, and knowing how to identify/locate specific information. Need to find something? Then you’d best know what it is you’re actually searching for, and how to actually find that thing–in my case, ‘that thing’ being the perfect literary agent.

I’d titled my post The Importance of Being Earnest , a clever nod to the great Oscar Wilde (fellow writer, serious writer, just like me!) and also, because I was feeling quite clever and confident when I’d settled down to write that post; plus, why miss the opportunity to tip one’s hat to a fellow writer’s work whilst cleverly showcasing one’s own?

Which brings me back to Escher.

Ahhh. Escher. As a fellow artist myself, I’ve always appreciated Escher’s remarkable drawings and etchings, many of which can blow your mind if you look at them too closely or think about them too hard. The Escher illustration at the top of this post is a prime example of the man’s brilliance/creativity/insanity/whatever-you-call-it: A kind of Hell in which mindless people mindlessly trudge up and down winding staircases; up, down, around and around; a pointless, purposeless process with no beginning and seemingly, without end; a hellish company of stairs and people going nowhere and yet, ironically, leading us to the point of this seemingly pointless post:

Querying is Hell sometimes.

But first, back to my previous post. I’d written that post from a ‘good place’ as they say; wrapped as I was in my cozy blanket of new-found confidence, and no wonder: I was back in the saddle again! Just ten or so queries out and already, one partial request! Not to mention my submission to that small indie press, open for subs just one month a year and this was that month; a delightfully fortuitous fact I’d discovered on a fluke and taken full advantage of; quite serendipitous but not surprising, especially when one considers that, when things are looking up for a person, good things tend to happen to that person, yes?

YES! And so, feeling quite optimistic again; e.g. quite like myself again, quite like the confident and capable writer I knew I was again, I’d sat myself down and magnanimously drafted no less than the perfect blueprint–with links, no less!–that a fellow writer, a cohort of mine, a peer, might actually find useful in her quest to research–and find, of course!– that singular, perfect literary agent who couldn’t WAIT to read her book–

And then . . . yesterday happened.

Any writer who’s queried for any length of time can pretty much figure out what happened yesterday, but for those of you who prefer to see such misery spelled out: yesterday, I received not one, but two, rejections. The first was from that indie publisher, who’d read my novel and decided to take a pass. A nice rejection, for sure, replete with a few editorial comments and a hearty congratulations on my almost flawless manuscript. I’m talking grammar now. Mechanics. Not one typo or grammatical error did they see, which–they’d marveled–was quite unique and exceptional and all that wonderful stuff, and would undoubtedly prove a boon to any editor, present company excluded of course, being as THEY DIDN’T WANT IT–

See where I’m going with this? (I tried to warn you. . .)

Rejection Two was the one that really hurt. I hadn’t realized how much I’d hoped this particular agent–this smart and savvy agent who’d loved my query/first few pages, and who’d then requested the synopsis and first five chapters–would fall in love  with what I’d sent and beg to read the rest. Nope. In a brief, albeit kind, rejection, she wrote that, after careful consideration, she’d concluded it wasn’t for her . . . But thank you very much, kk. Perhaps another time. . .

One step forward. Two steps back. I know. I KNOW. When you’re querying your novel, you’re bound to get rejections. But yesterday–for the first time in my life, no lie–I truly, seriously, absolutely doubted that this novel, or any of my novels would ever–

Need I spell it out?

As I’ve noted countless times in the course of writing this blog, when you’re trying to get your novel published the old-fashioned way; e.g. find an agent who will find you a publisher, disappointment is part of the game. We writers know that. We accept it; or, at least, we try to brace ourselves for that crushing disappointment, and when crushing disappointment inevitably comes, we look to each other for emotional support and solace. We lament in our own ways but eventually, we buck up/man up/climb back up on that proverbial high horse because we know, we know, that it only takes one agent; plus, you never know what’s waiting for you right around the corner. You never know what one honest day’s efforts will set in motion the next, so you put it out there and keep putting  it out there, because if you harbor even one shred of hope, you must put it out there if you’re to have any chance at all of giving yourself that shot–

Intellectually, I know this. And I know myself, which is why I also know (intellectually at least), that I’ll get over this latest disappointment. It’s what I do, and what I have done. Intellectually, I know this is a temporary situation only; a temporary setback. In fact, with any luck at all, by tomorrow I’ll be looking at things differently; if not tomorrow, then surely, the day after that. Or the day after that.

But today, I gotta tell ya: my perspective is all askew. I’m one of those doomed, mindless people trudging on a staircase going nowhere, and yesterday’s disappointment has shadowed me into today. Welcome to Query Hell, people.

No fucking hope at all.





4 thoughts on “Repetit*

  1. When I told my boss that, while my first accepted story was in fact accepted its first time out, my SECOND accepted story had been rejected 11 times, she kind of blankly shook her head. When I told her my newest accepted story (not officially announced yet, shhh) had been rejected 12 or 14 times, I couldn’t remember, that blankness increased, if possible. Oh, and I was wrong….it was 19 times (thanks, Submission Grinder!)

    Queries, I’ve only put my toes in. And need to revise, and have begun to gesture at revising and listening to those old writing playlists again, so I’m still/again in that optimistic go-getter phase.

    And as a paralibrarian (library clerk, perhaps soon to be senior library clerk, depending on those civil service test results), I cannot say “repetit” OR “repitit” have ever once entered my consciousness in the library world. So there.


  2. Point made, Jen. 🙂

    ‘Tis a fickle business we’re in. Sometimes it seems there’s no rhyme or reason to it, but that’s how it goes with art, which writing is. It can be such a personal thing, then you put it out there and discover that others might view your vision differently. Or they don’t like what they see. Then you have the pragmatists who view your work wholly from their own bottom line: Will it sell? Will it make me a profit?

    But as I said, it’s a business. And right now, I’m in the business of selling my books. I feel differently today than I did yesterday, when I sat down and wrote this post. Today, my jaw is set and my eyes are dry, so maybe I’ve turned the corner on that self-pity stuff. I ain’t got time for it if I’m serious about finding an agent. So, pity party over, I guess. Time to get to work.

    As always, thank you, Jen. And btw, my lips are sealed, but . . . congratulations, anyhow.

    xo kk


  3. Fellow Literary Purgatorian here. Long ago I made the mistake of researching agents a little too thoroughly. Obviously, you want to do some research so you’re not pitching your Teen Vampire Romance novel to James Patterson’s agent, but I started stalking prospective agents on Twitter, scouring the internet for their literary interviews and guest blogs, all the while convincing myself that we were potential BFFs who would greatly enrich each other’s lives via a professional business relationship.

    After a few rejects from my sure-to-be-literary-soul-mates, I stopped researching them beyond whether they were A) legit agents, and B) a good fit for my book. My heart empathizes with you!


    • And mine with yours, Shea. You have a good plan now, I think. There’s SO much info out there so we have to be diligent in our quest to find that perfect agent, lest we run the risk of 1) stalling the query process with our search through/for minutiae, and 2)

      Actually, I think that first bit pretty much covers it. It’s kind of like the fan who does all kinds of research to determine the best seat in the stadium for snagging a home run baseball of the best hitter on his favorite team: he runs the stats for that player, checks wind speeds that day, figures likely trajectories–the whole nine yards–only to watch as some dumb fuck eating a corn dog reaches up and snares the damn thing.

      Sometimes, being in the ballpark is enough.


      Anyhoo, good luck in your querying, Shea, and thanks for visiting. You’re welcome anytime (nix on the corn dogs, tho).



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