Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wanted: Inexperience

by Kim Van Sickler

Inexperience provides us with a childlike fearlessness that is the polar opposite of the alleged wisdom that age confers on us, the ‘wisdom’ telling us some goals are foolish, a waste of time, invitations to disaster. In its purest form, inexperience erases fear. You do not know what is and is not possible and therefore everything is possible." Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit

I’m trying to preserve my innocence.

Some of you may be familiar with my journey. You bait your hook, then wait for bites. The bulk of the fish swim by, but a few pause. They take a nibble. You begin to think that one will stay for the entire meal. Because one good fish is all you need.
But at the end of the day, all you’ve got are the few nibbles. None of them took that hefty bite you needed to catch them.

Your options are to throw your hands up in frustration and declare that enough is enough. Or…keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing, even though it hasn’t worked. Or…change your strategy. If you want to catch that fish, you can’t let past failures impede future efforts, but you also may need to re-think the way you’re going about trying to catch one.
I’m at that point right now. I’ve recently received two personalized rejections on two different manuscripts from agents who asked for fulls, but passed. I don’t want to wallow in helplessness, frustration, or fear. I don’t want to analyze why I’m doing this and what my odds are of success.

I plan to keep fishing.

After a little reconnaissance, I’ve devised a new plan of action. The month of June was devoted to revamping one novel with an eye toward addressing Agent #1’s comments. That manuscript is now with a group of beta readers. July is the month for me to retool the second manuscript, keeping in mind the comments I received from the second agent. By August, I hope to have both of those manuscripts in circulation again. Then I’ll resume first edits on manuscript number three.

It helps to have a plan of action. I focus on it rather than obsessing over the bigger picture, namely: will an agent ever bite?
Is all this effort a waste of time?

Am I foolish in believing that anyone will ever want to publish my books?

Is continuing to revise and release my manuscripts just opening myself up to pain and heartache?

I want to stay too inexperienced to get jaded or doubt myself. I want to remain too inexperienced to feel anything other than that my efforts will someday succeed. And I need to continue to write, revise, and submit with enthusiasm, dedication, and diligence. That’s the only way to catch that fish.


  1. Kim: I admire your perseverance. Mine has run out. I'm taking a break from writing and looking into new directions.

    1. Ann, I understand needing a break. You remind me of something else Twyla Tharp says: that if you are creative in many different areas, you need to figure out which one is really you. And sometimes that takes time. You've got lots of options. But bottom line is, you need to love what you're doing. And if you decide you love writing, then you should keep at it. You've got so much going for you, I admire your talent with words and photos.

  2. Keep fishing, Kim! Love your attitude. It's natural for doubt and jadedness to creep in...just gotta learn ways to squash those when it's time to pursue the creative work. Hope you land a BIG ONE. xo

    1. Thanks, Irene! It's writers like you that keep me positive. I appreciate your support and comradeship.

  3. My hook's been in the water for longer than I care to mention. I rebait & keep at it. The loving what I do that you refer to is what keeps me sitting there. And if you really, really love it, it's the only choice. Hang in there!

  4. Ahhhh...the blissful ignorance of the beginning...where it all started. If only! :)

    1. Getting your short story published should help maintain the wonder and enthusiasm! Great job!