At the Beginning of the Query Process

I first saw this picture over two years ago. My thought upon seeing it was “Oh that’s it exactly.” It was how I expected to feel at the moment I sent a query to off to an agent about a completed manuscript. I was so sure that this was how I would feel that I emailed the artist Ida Larsen and asked her permission to use the picture in a blog post. She kindly gave it. I filed a digital image, ordered a print, and then took a really long time revising my book.

I sent out that query letter today. To my surprise, this picture is not how I feel about it. I expected sending queries to feel like my first step into a world of adventure and danger. Instead it feels like sending a kid off to school. I worked, cajoled, and struggled to get the thing ready to go. In theory I should be worried or excited, mostly I just feel relief. For the next little while the future of my book is out of my hands. I can rest. It will come back, probably rejected, perhaps with more work for me to do. I expect it to come back many times. Then I will expend effort to send it out again. Eventually, hopefully, someday it will sell. At which point I will have yet more work to do. Not having work feels very good at this moment. I can look around and pick my next project.

So what is this book that I just sent off to two agents? I call it Stepping Stones. It is a book of essays in memoir form about one woman’s struggle to balance work, family, spirituality, community, and self. The essays are drawn from the essays I’ve written in this blog. They are combined in such a way to tell a narrative spanning about two years. If you like this blog, you’ll probably like the book and vice versa. I hope you all get to read it as a book someday because it contains lots of things which never got mentioned in the blog.

I must say that there is a sense of satisfaction in having a book in the query process. It is a milestone, a marker that I actually finished a book instead of dwelling endlessly in revision land. I know that this will not change the opinion that my friends have of me, but I feel incrementally more confident about myself. This is a good thing.