Pared down to my essence, I am a tortured writer. A fairly social observer of the world who awakes in the night trying to capture that je ne sais quoi when a dream or fleeting memory brings all the pieces into place and the veil of life is lifted, if only for a millisecond. Everything I write is both brilliant and complete trash to me depending on the time of day or night I reread it. I compose in neurotic bursts of energy followed by much longer periods of absolute avoidance. My process is the antithesis of efficiency. It’s raw and flawed like me.
And so- naturally- I loved the 3:00 AM torrent of fragmented prose and snapshots of character. Drunk with possibility and sleep deprivation, I rode the wave of freewriting as far as it would take me. It was the absolute best and I have rarely felt so aligned with the universe. I can see why writers start ten different projects and finish none. Editing sucks. Nothing is good enough. Just start over with a better concept. And when (and if) we make it through the editing/self-loathing trenches, there is one more major hurdle that causes many a writer to take pause, opt out, or assume the fetal position: landing a literary agent.
I have been dragging my feet through this part for quite a stretch, pre-pandemic. I can count on my fingers the number of agents I have queried. I am particular and so are they, these mysterious gatekeepers. I have one rejection in my pile and the rest? Only time will tell.
You have a voice- a unique perspective and colorful story- within you. Don’t be afraid to start writing and once you start, please, for the love of all that is creative and glorious, do not stop! Below is my sample query letter. I hope it helps you to vanquish the demons of distraction and self-doubt
My name is Shawn DeVars Amos and I’m a writer and high school Literacy Coach from Tampa, Florida. I graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in English Literature and have been teaching since 2007. I love to write and have recently completed the draft of what I hope will become my first published novel.
My book, which I have tentatively titled The Quiet Despair of Orchids is a 70,000 word southern gothic with nods to Jane Eyre and Beloved. Filled with magical realism, the book follows Denver, a disillusioned writer with a broken past, from Florida to North Carolina. Propelled by forces unknown, she soon finds herself in a small mountain town that possesses more than a few secrets. Denver must confront the ghosts of her past and those of the town in order to right the injustices inflicted upon her and other women and give voice to the silenced.