Okay, right now I’m in the middle of my umpteenth revision of (please imagine dramatic music and an echoing baritone voice): The Dreaded Query Letter. (Now imagine Homer Simpson screaming.
So, what is it that makes the process so daunting? I could probably give a hundred reasons, most of which are tightly bound to my emotional state, so I’ll refrain. Suffice it to say that it is something I struggle with. And I know I’m not alone.
I totally admire someone who can distill their 70,000 to 100,000 word manuscript to 250-400 words. Especially if they can capture the main character, the plot, the stakes for the MC, and the consequences of their actions while maintaining flow and coherence. It’s an art to make all the pieces fit perfectly together such that the seams are invisible.
It’s a skill I’m still honing. Granted, when I first started writing letters (back in the days of yore), I waxed idiotic about subplots, secondary characters, and I had no idea how to really write a hook. Since then, I’ve learned how to be more “concise” and I think I’ve got some voice. But as far as seemless, eh, still working.
That’s why I thought of washboards. When my mom was a child, wash day (well, it was actually Mondays, not Wednesdays, but heck, I’m taking literary license!) was wash DAY. In a world before washing machines, all clothing, towels, bedding, even cloth diapers—ick!—had to be washed by hand using a washboard.
Bottom line: If I think writing and re-writing a query letter is bad, oh boy, “washboard hands” takes the cake.
All right, so what’s my point? Well, writing is a lot of fun, but it takes discipline. It takes WORK. It takes tolerance of repetition. And it takes tolerance of tearing apart a query letter sentence by sentence, word by word, only to put it back together again. And again. And again. And again…