Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Caution: Humps in the road ahead.

If there's one thing you can be sure of in the writing biz, it's that there will be humps to get over.

Now, I'm not one to knock humps. Humps can be all kinds of fun, depending. Sure, they might make you sweat, but they can be energizing! (<--Obligatory Grimes double entendre.) Of course, it helps if you know ahead of time that they're not insurMOUNTable. (Oops. I did it again...)

But, seriously, folks (no, really -- seriously, I mean it...hey, stop laughing!), you can get beyond the humps. A few suggestions, if I may be so bold...


It's amazing how many people never get over this one. They have a great idea. They start it. And then they...peter out. Whether they just stall, or are lured away by a Shiny New Idea (which they work on only until the next SNI winks at them from across the room*), they don't complete the task at hand. Bookus Interuptus. It's a sad thing**.

Solution: Come on, isn't it obvious? Finish your damn book!


Looking for the perfect agent is easier than ever, thanks to the internet. Resources abound: Twitter, Facebook, sites like -- they can provide a wealth of information to you, the discerning agent stalker writer, enabling you to locate your dream agent. Unfortunately, it also means it's easier for thousands of other stalkers writers in the same position to look too, so the Competition Sub-Hump is a bigger hazard than ever at this stage.

Solution: Polish that query until it shines! (After making sure your Damn Book is finished -- and equally shiny -- of course.)


This is where your agent comes in to help with the heavy lifting. But it's still teamwork. You may be asked to revise, and even re-revise. Your book may be rejected outright by editors, or an editor may fall in love with it and still not be able to get it past the editorial board. This may happen several times, until you feel like you're on one of those rumble strips instead of just going over a speed bump.

Solution: Hang on tight, and occupy yourself with writing the next book.


And (wait for it...) finishing it

Solution: Um, yeah. Just do it...blah-blah-blah. Do it whether your first book sells or not. 


You're catching onto my point, right? The humps never end. But the feeling of accomplishment when you get over one starts to get addictive.

Either that, or writers are basically masochistic creatures. I haven't quite decided which yet.

Are you a writer? What's the last hump you got over?

*SNIs can be treacherous sirens, enticing you away from your WIP with the promise of easy writing ahead, when really they just want to laugh as you are buffeted against the rocky shoals of chapter 17, or wherever the heck you are when it occurs to you that finishing This Damn Book isn't going to be any easier than finishing The Last Damn Book. You're just going to have to plug your ears and learn to swim through the seaweed.

**Except when it's not. There are always exceptions, and sometimes giving up on a WIP is the right thing to do. You may reach a point where you realize you won't ever have enough creative hot air (er, so to speak) to inflate that book all the way. Then it may be a good thing to check out one of your SNIs. But if you catch yourself doing this a lot, beware. You could become a Serial Book Starter, and that's not just a hump. It's a mountain.


Summer Frey said...

Great post, Linda! Let's see, I started writing novels at age 9. I didn't get over the finish the damn novel hump until age 24. That was one huge hump...

Unknown said...

AWESOME post, Linda! and so true :)

Tara said...

Finishing I'm good with. Letting go after that, not so much. Hump. Hump. Hmphhh!

abby mumford said...

a particular hump for me is finding an idea to write about and THEN i get to the finish the book hump which is equivalent to a rumble strip on a hump. bumpy and jerky and ow, do i have whiplash?

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm still waiting in mid-hump (is that a real position?) for agents to get back to me on partials. The kitchen reno is finished so I have no more excuses to not finish the damn revisions on the first book.

Sarah Tokeley said...

I'm so very guilty of SNI syndrome. I'm trying very hard to get over that hump right now! It's always better when you find out the disease you have has a name - it's one step closer to curing it :)

Trisha Leigh said...

Really good advice Linda. I'm glad I'm not one to get lured off by SNI's. I finish everything, mostly because I'm just a little OCD.

As far as humps, boy. I just got tossed a big one as I made the decision to leave my agent and move back a step.

In the meantime, guess what I'm doing? WRIITING. :)

Kristina said...

So, which hump are you ahumping these days??? I hope it's writing your next novel. I'm editing away...making baby steps toward that shiny goal! :)

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Okay, putting on my hiking boots and going back to climb Hump 1.

Jen Stayrook said...

Really great post, except the entire time I just kept singing, "My humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps..."

But you're right, I really DO need to finish That Damn Book. And That Damn Book #2 (no relation).

Linda G. said...

Summer -- Bet it felt good to get over the top of that one! :)

Karla -- Thanks. Glad you liked it. :)

Tara -- Yeah, letting go can be tough. It's a whole 'nother kind of angst to watch our creations head out there. But you can do it! Just pry those fingers off, and feel the joy of release!

Abby -- LOL! Yeah, whiplash IS an occupational hazard. ;)

Anne -- Yay for completing the kitchen reno! Know that must be a load off your mind. :)

Sarah -- Go for the cure! Finish something...anything...just so you know you can. It's liberating. :)

Trisha -- Yannoh, a little OCD might be a good thing in a writer. Re parting ways with your agent: I'm sorry things didn't work out for you. But it's good you're looking for a better match -- I'm sure you'll be much happier in the long run.

Kristina -- I'm finishing up book 2 while I wait for edits on book 1. There's always something to do, writing-wise.

Teri Anne -- Yay! Dig those heels in -- you can do it! :)

Jen -- LOL! Thanks a lot for the earworm. Now I'll be humming that all day. *grin*

Candyland said...

Oh geez. The humps are never ending as a writer. Right now, I'm looking for my 2nd agent. It's a pretty big hump.

Linda G. said...

Candyland -- Seems to be a bit of that going around. (See Trisha's comment above.) But you know what? As big a hump as looking for a new agent is, it's way better than staying with the wrong one. Once you find your real dream match, it will all be worth it.

Steph Schmidt said...

I fizzled out at polishing my query letter and decided to go back and edit my manuscript one more time after getting a few form rejections.

This summer is my goal to get over the Land an Agent Hump.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

Right now my biggest writing hump is balancing the non-writing part of my llife. Grrrrr it's hectic at the moment. Gonna get my humps in a row...I mean my ducks...whatever.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Great post, but it sure would be nice if some of life's humps got smaller as we got older.

Haven't made it over too many of the writing humps yet, but I'm still climbing.

Linda G. said...

Steph -- Sounds like a good goal to me. :)

Kimmie -- Yeah, Real Life can be a big hump in itself. *wry grin*

Susan -- Thanks. :) Yeah, that would be nice, wouldn't it? Alas, doesn't seem to work that way. Hang in there with your writing humps! You WILL make it over them.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Ooooh, you said it about the SNI! Tricky little things, aren't they -- and not all that shiny when you get right up close to 'em.

I am happy to have a wonderful agent who has insightfully helped me whip a couple manuscripts into shape. Now facing ... yeah, submissions. Eeek.

Maery Rose said...

Great post! I am definitely attracted to SNIs and a Serial Book Starter. I get stuck on one project and start another. I'm trying to convince myself that the first book you finish usually stinks anyway so might as well get it over with and then move on to the SNI.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

The next hump I have to get over is this sex scene I'm trying to write. So I guess you could say I do have an actual hump to get over.

Michele Shaw said...

I finished the damn book, but I'm stuck on the finding an agent hump. I have hundred's of SNI's luring me, and I'm waiting for the right one to step forward. But really, right now I blame you for my "oops I did it again" earworm...

Al said...

I am stuck on a bad hump which is not having enough time to promote my book :-(

Linda G. said...

Diane -- A good agent is invaluable. Best of luck with your submissions! :)

Maery Rose -- That's actually a good way to look at it. Takes a little of the pressure off, and finishing a book at least proves you CAN. :)

Kari -- LOL! Now, that's a genuine hump if ever I heard one. ;)

Michelle -- Sorry about that! ;) Just pick the best SNI, and work on it until you find an agent for the book you finished. There's a heck of a lot of waiting in this biz; may as well make it productive, right?

Al -- That's a huge hump, I know. It's just so time-consuming. Best of luck with it! :)

COLM O'RIAIN said...

Humpty Dumpty fell of the wall,
Humpty Dumpty couldn't write at all!
His thoughts he could not even log
Until he read Linda's 'Visting Reality blog?
-Keep up the revs on the road!