Working on my book definitely has its ups and downs. I was really on a roll for a while. Cycling stories were accumulating quickly, and it felt like good progress. I could whip out a vignette each time I sat down, and I thoroughly enjoyed reliving each one of those days of cycling. But I couldn’t see where it was going.
Time out for research. Time to do a little studying up on what makes a good memoir. What makes a compelling read. How others before me have done it. Then back to writing. Progress feels slower now, but somewhat more focused. Or that’s what I tell myself.
There is no doubt this is a long haul project. So I have decided on some shorter term goals. I am aiming to submit a story to a magazine each month, preferably one of my finished chapters. The idea is not a new concept. Even before I started my book, I envisioned targeting new publications and pitching my work. But I always chickened out in the face of writing that query letter. The process was intimidating. The odds felt daunting. The one time I did follow through, I received a prompt rejection. It wasn’t that failure that stopped me from trying again – the editor was kind enough to point out how I had missed the mark on the magazine’s audience. And he was right. He did me a favor in guiding my future submissions. I just couldn’t get up the gumption to put in the effort again.
But today I gave it another try. I found a cycling magazine that looked like a good fit, read dozens of stories from prior issues and cooked up two ideas that I thought would intrigue their readers. A short email exchange with the editor was encouraging so on the strength of that I went into action. I pulled together summaries of my proposed stories and compiled samples of photographs, maps and writing experience.
Naturally, all this took time away from actually writing my book. I’m not sure if this was actually a diversionary tactic or productive work. Time will tell if it is rewarding or discouraging. Helpful or just a detour. It’s all a big learning curve to me. For now, I can still hope. I just pressed Send.