Rules of Engagement, Writer’s Edition: Part One – Desperation

In dating and in life, there are certain rules a girl is supposed to follow.

1. Dress for the job/title you want, instead of the one you have

2. Always appear less interested/willing/desperate than you actually are

3. Keep your eyes and ears open, and count to three before you talk

4. No matter how much rejection hurts, the earth WILL keep turning, and things WILL get better

These hold true for job interviews, making new friends, and of course, when dealing with the publishing industry as a whole. Still, in every new situation, it’s only natural for a girl to ask herself, “am I coming on too strong?” (This, of course, goes for the guy writers as well. But I thought it sounded more Sex and the City from a female POV, so we’re going with it for the remainder of this post.)

And even though we’re not talking about dating, but literary correspondence, the questions remain the same. How long should I wait to call or e-mail? Will I seem desperate if I make the first move? And of course, there’s always “Do you like me? Do you really, really like me?”

Unfortunately, I don’t have any anecdotal advice to offer you at this point in time. All I can do is tell you what my mom used to say to me whenever I set my sights on a cute boy. And ironically, it’s the same thing my husband tells me every time I ask him something along the lines of: “Should I call? Has it been long enough? Will I seem desperate if I write just to check in?” The universal advice, dear friends, is OCCUPIED PATIENCE.

Wait until you absolutely can’t wait any longer, but while you do, be working on something worthwhile. Revise your manuscript while you wait to send out the next round of query letters. Start working on your next novel, before you tear your hair out over the current one. And above all, focus on the things that you CAN control. Like writing, and exercise. And a steady influx of adult beverages to dull the pain of inevitable rejection. (Just kidding.) And stop plucking the petals off that poor, defenseless flower while you’re at it.

WRITE ON, dear friends! Soon, there will be great news. (And if not, I’ll be over here dancing and pretending I don’t care that Jenny is wearing the same dress as me.)


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