Are Failed Queries Making You a Better Writer?

I’m still entangled in this mess of attracting the attention of a literary agent. I’ve read plenty of posts and helpful how-tos at how to make my query more enticing, more specific, more interesting to each literary agent. And with each subsequent rejection, I’m left pondering what, if anything did I do wrong? Why is this agent’s response in my growing “NO” e-mail folder instead of the “YES!” folder?

Without question, writing query letters to agents or editors is a slog. Condensing your masterpiece into a three-hundred word blip, along with heaps of praise or adulation for the agent/editor’s blog/recent comment/convention appearance makes for the same exciting brand of writing to me as writing a technical manual for a piece of software. It requires research, attention to detail and its a horrifying bore.

But is it making me a better writer?

One of my favorite teachers in high school left me with a very important bit of advice before I graduated and headed off to the hills of college: “read everything you can get your hands on, and don’t stop writing.” Every writing exercise is an improvement over the last. It’s true. I’ve read some of my older attempts at writing stories and I flinch. Ugh!  Was that me with that awful subject/verb connective phrase? Did I just use a cliche? Is that character speaking or is he yelling? Why am I using dialogue .. .telling the reader what he or she should know … when I should be showing them?

So the same goes for queries. I am getting better at writing them. Whether or not I have something worth representing and selling is another matter. It’s a purely subjective point of view. But that won’t stop me from writing. Not for all the cliches in China.

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