by Cindy R. Williams
My daughter and I have been fascinated of late by a reality show about hoarding. It is stunning. I can hardly believe how people literally cannot throw anything away even to the point that rooms are filled to the ceiling with stuff. Lots of the stuff starts out to be good, usable stuff, but soon gets crushed and then bugs and even rats get into it. I mean . . . I can't even write anymore about it.
It is so overwhelming that the hoarder doesn't even know where to start. Professionals arrive and help the hoarders clean their homes, but more important, they provide them help to face their emotional issues that result in their hoarding behaviors. Usually, the homes and yards look remarkable, all clean and tidy and the hoarder is incredibly happy and relieved.
Each time I see an episode of Hoarders, I tackle an area in my house, like a closet, a bookcase, a dresser, some cupboards, etc. I am not a real hoarder, but I am a bit of a Hector the Collector. I find I LOVE tossing or giving things away. In fact, the back of my van is full of clothes, shoes, books and household items for the Deseret Industries right now. Getting things out the door and sprucing things up feels FABULOUS.
What does all this talk about hoarding have to do with writing? You know it's coming, right? Well . . . today I decided it was time to clean out my writing book shelf. It contains five years of binders and folders from writing conferences. There are tons of books about fairies, dragons and magical creatures. There are a great number of books by many of you, my author friends. I have shelves full of binders for each story, novel or novella that I have started and kept copious notes on. My main middle grade four book fiction series fills eight binders alone. As I organized it all and make new binders to organize my writing tips on queries, synopsis, marketing, agents, pitches, characters, plot, dialog . . . I realized that I have been hoarding my finished works.
I have four manuscripts complete and have left them gathering dust in my bookcase while I polish and edit the middle grade series. I thought long and hard about why I haven't sent those four projects out. Why am I hanging onto them?
The answer is plain and simple. Fear and self doubt. I am afraid that no one will love my darlings. It is incredibly hard to push them out the door and face the big, bad world.
The only solution to this is to dust them off, do my due diligence in finding agents that mesh with each, and send them flying across cyberspace.
I have set a goal to have the middle grade fantasy out to at least 10 agents by the end of August. While I am waiting for good news -- yeah, I know rejections are more likely, but there has to be hope or why bother right? --I plan on sending each of the other three out by the end of September.
I am feeling lighter already.
Good goals to be sure. No more hoarding manuscripts for me.