On his blog, Nathan Bransford once said that he can often tell when someone will almost positively never be published from their query letters.Yes, that's true.
It seems likely that most of these people have no sense of this, as they are continuing to query.Indeed.
The next logical step in this self-destructive thinking pattern is that I may be one of these people myself.
So my question is, when should an author give up? Is there any way to tell if I'm just a crap writer and it's never going to happen? I know you'll say you shouldn't be doing this if you don't love it, etc. But in reality, although I enjoy writing, I don't love editing and revising and all that jazz. In fact, I hate it. If I knew I'd never get published I'd just give up on that bit and stick to blogging and leaving comments on blogs to fulfill my need to communicate with the world.I know, you hear things like, "Crazy people don't think they're crazy."-- and it makes you think, "um... I don't think I'm crazy. Does that mean I'm crazy?" Writers live a great deal in their heads, and sometimes it gets a little crowded in there, huh?
It's sometimes hard to bring across to people to whom writing with clarity comes naturally, but editors and agents get piles of queries from people who are barely competent to scratch a drawing of a buffalo on a cave wall, and who would probably manage to misspell even that.
I can tell from the way you wrote this letter that you have a fine grasp of the English language, the use of its grammar and punctuation, and are capable of putting ideas in logical order without unnecessary repetition.
You know the quote "I don't know art, but I know what I like"? There are plenty of people like that in books, as well. On the one hand, it's fine for people to like whatever they like, and especially in children's books I am a proponent of readers reading whatever makes them want to read more.
But when it comes to writing, yes, there's the rub. "I don't know writing, but I know what I like" just doesn't fly when you're trying to create writing rather than just consuming it. Would you say "I don't know electricity, but I know what I like," before attempting to wire a house? Would you say, "I don't know brain surgery, but I know what I like," before picking up a scalpel?
Perhaps writers who are secretly worried they're terrible and don't know it could cast their minds back to their high school and college days, and ponder how well beloved they were of their English teachers. Did your teachers give you high marks on your writing? Or did you get every paper back with misspellings and ungrammatical constructions marked in red, and points withheld for style? Have you been complimented on your writing by people who read a great deal in the same field for which you're writing? Or have you been complimented on your writing by people who think of the comics page as their primary encounter with written language?
There's no need to love every part of the industry-- truly, there's no one who does. There are difficult, exhausting aspects no matter which role you have. You've got to love some part of it, and love that part a lot, for that very reason.
And you've got to recognize it when your own imagination is trying to stab you in the back. ;)