Sunday, May 3, 2009


This morning I've been working on three separate books. I'm certain that in the world of writer's advice this is listed as a bad idea, but there you go. In my mind it's better than the state of dormancy I've found myself in these last few weeks, trying to work out what to do with that pesky Ghost of Ping-Ling.

Speaking of which, on Thursday I decided to bite the bullet and send off a few queries. I already had a query letter ready, and it didn't take long to finish off the synopsis I've been tinkering with for the last few months. By Thursday night I'd fired off five queries to some of the US based agents whose blogs I follow.

How confident did I feel? Not very. The fog that's descended since the assessor's report has drained a lot of my confidence, especially as I've (to date) been unable to come up with a solution to the problems identified that I'm actually happy with. The manuscript I queried was the same that I sent to the assessor, and if the plot problems identified were genuine the agents were certain to pick them up pretty quickly.

By Saturday morning I had received three 'thanks but no thanks' form rejection letters. I printed them out and put them in a folder, something I read somewhere is the right thing to do with rejection letters (short of sticking them up on your wall). How do I feel about this? Well, I would be a bare faced liar if I said it didn't disappoint me, particularly as a couple of the agents were the ones I felt most confident with. But by the same token, it's given me a totally different perspective on the querying process. I've been reading countless agent's and publisher's blogs for months now, and I considered that I was becoming quite an expert on the concept of a query letter. But when you actually sit down and write one and send it off, then get a rejection, it makes you just that much keener to read the advice yet again, and work out whether there's anything you missed. I think that's why I sent off the queries, I needed to taste the experience for real - and I certainly did.

So, now I'm writing three books at once, in between receiving form rejection letters. What are these three books? The first is (of course) the Ghost of Ping-Ling. I'm trying yet another angle on the plot, and so far it hasn't made me throw my hands in the air and swear, which to me is a real positive. I intend to keep tinkering with it until it falls into place, although I don't think I'm going to pour quite as much time into it as I have done over the last few months, at least not for a while.

The second books is called the Weight of Souls. I had the idea for it in my head for about six months, but I wasn't sure it would work. In the last few days I've written nearly five thousand words, and I have to confess I'm surprised at the way it has flowed, and how the idea seems to work really well. I'm only a chapter or so into it, so it could yet fall into a deep ditch, but for the moment I'm happy beavering away and seeing what happens. The other thing that's different about this book is it's an adult fantasy, which I haven't attempted to write before.

The third book has no name at this time, but its one of my older stories that predates the Ghost of Ping-Ling. I haven't spent so much time writing the book itself, but I've spent a lot of time world-building as well as thinking about the characters and the plot, and this morning I wrote the first 100 words.

All in all, it's busy, and it's exciting, and it's challenging, and whether anything comes out of it or not, I'm loving every moment.

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