I’ve been browsing these boards for a couple weeks now, and I see you guys are no strangers to personal advice threads, and being the brilliant minds you are, I hoped you could give me some insight into my situation. I think I already know the answers, but you know as well as I that it’s always nice to hear it from someone else too.
You should know up front that I’m just a whippersnapper (18), and no, this isn’t an “Oh my god, my life is over!!!1!1!1!” thread, but I do think I need a bit of a reality check (which is where you guys come in).
The scenario is as follows:
So I graduated last July, and thus was on my way into the “real” world. The university/college path quickly fell to pieces that summer, as the university I was intent on going to was bought up by a bigger one, and the programs were changed considerably into something I wasn’t interested in. I browsed for other schools, and sort-of settled on a digital arts school, but within months changed my mind. It wasn’t really what I was after, and it was far, far too expensive as a time killer until I could figure out what I wanted to do.
So with university as a no-go for now, the next logical step is work, right? There’s where the real problem started.
Now, I’m not a lazy guy. I’m not a motivated “up and at them!” go-getter, but when something grabs me, I grab it and don’t let go. I think I’m very all-or-nothing in that sense. I don’t fiddle with the details, instead going right for the jugular. With that in mind, you can probably understand why I was extremely opposed to flipping burgars or playing punching bag at a retail outlet. For a kid that has virtually no resume and no post-high school education, there are few other options than that, but in addition to being all-or-nothing, I’m also stubborn as hell, and no amount of yelling, coaxing or deal-making with my parents could budge me into getting off my ass and getting a minimum wage job. I didn’t see the point and I certainly didn’t want to be bored half to death in the process. It’s not like my family is poor, so my getting a job is more princeple than supportive.
So a little bit of back and forth battling (during which I did make a few bucks tagging along with my dad to work now and then), my mom finally squeezed an answer out of me:
Her: “Well, what the hell are you going to do if you don’t get a job?”
Me: “I have no idea. Write a book?”
It sort of came to me at the time, but I’d be lying if I said I’d never given it any thought before that. I should note here that I’m the creative type, and writing is basically my gift. It’s the one thing above all else I can do well.
So I wrote a book. Took me four weeks to finish of 60 000 words (about 200 pages) of a novel about an average high school kid that goes nuts. It was good. Damn good, if I may say so myself. It’s exactly the type of novel/story I love: Lines blurred between good and evil, darkly poetic and an intense, vivid main character character. I know I sound like I’m just tooting my own horn, but dammit, I think it’s worth a good tootin’!
That was back in October. Four weeks ago (Feb. 2nd) I sent out my query letters to potential literary agents, drawn from a book all about this sort of thing. Standard practice involves sending out a bunch of letters all at once, but I skimmed the book for agents that 1) Accepted query letters through e-mail (so I didn’t have to break the bank with snail-mail costs) and 2) Dealt in at least the thriller/suspense genres, with horror as an added bonus. There were only eight agents in total, out of hundreds, that met that criteria. Eight is nothing when it comes to these things. I should have coughed up the money for stamps and printing costs and snail-mailed letters out to at least 20 or 30, but I felt lucky.
It’s four weeks later now, and nothing. Four weeks is the standard time limit for first response. Three addresses came back as dead, three came back with “We’re not interested at this time” and the other two I haven’t heard from, which means there’s a 99.9999% chance I won’t hear from them.
Needless to say, I’m a little discouraged right now. Remember when I said I’d go for the jugular? I thought I had, and now… zip! I tried to really cash in on my god-given talent, and came up with nothing.
I suppose the smart thing to do at this point is invest the money in stamps, envelopes and printing of samples, go through the book again and send out a large barrage of mail, but I can’t help but feel a little rejected. These people didn’t even want to read a sample. The last two guys, the ones I really felt matched my style the most, didn’t even reply. I kept thinking, every time a rejection came up, “Well, that’s ok, because my main guys are still in the running”.
Am I jumping the gun a bit? Is it ludicrous to feel down because a small fraction of possible agents didn’t latch on to my idea? Or was I too arrogant and greedy in trying to bypass the “paying my dues” portion of life, instead going right for the career and trying for an easy, enjoyable life off the bat? Should I have started small and maybe tried writing and publishing into my late twenties or thirties like everyone else? I must say I’m dreading the next little while, because the only thing between me and “Would you like fries with that?” was this damned book, and now I have no alternative to grovelling for eight bucks an hour, except maybe a miracle and/or some clever fast-talk on my part.
So instill me with words of advice, wisdom or just give me a good, ol’ fashioned verbal (or textual, I guess) motivational ass-whooping.