Except, really? Not.
There's some research somewhere that would tell you the percentage of conference attendees who win a contract on the manuscript they bring to the conference, but honestly, we all know I'm too lazy to do that research. So I'll just tell you this: It's not a very big number.
A ton of the attendees at any given conference are bringing a first draft. Do I really need to say more about that?
Of the ones carrying a polished manuscript, many, many of them are first manuscripts. As in, this is my first novel.
WARNING: Here's where this hypothetical-ish blog post turns into a hypocritical blog post.
People don't usually get first manuscripts published. (Just stay with me, please.) Since with the act of writing, we become better writers everyday, it naturally follows that a third novel will be greater than a first, and the fifth will be vastly more wonderful. Paraphrasing several authors' takes on this, a writer needs to write four unpublishable novels before he's ready to have that golden #5 purchased.
At this point, you may be thinking that I got very lucky.
You would be correct.
I wrote a first book that was submitted, agent-free, to a publisher, chosen out of the slush pile, shined up, given a fabulous cover, and published. Then I wrote a second one that was also published (and will be in stores, like, any minute). So, if we're doing the math correctly, here's the thing. I owe the universe something like eight unpublishable manuscripts.
And I'd like you to know that I'm hard at work filling that IOU.
The things I'm writing at right now are bland. Un-spark-ish. Contrived. And it's seriously discouraging. BUT. I know that the exercise is good for me. I'm flexing the writing muscle, even if it goes nowhere. Someday I'll regain my cleverness. I'm certain. And the only way to do that is to keep working on it. Keep flexing that muscle. Keep the words coming, and not worry too much that they're boring or stupid or heartless.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I know, I KNOW that I am not the only one discouraged by the spewing of un-brilliant words. We can't all be on our game all the time. And I want you all to get it -- it's not ON all the time, and that's so totally okay.
Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Scratching. Scribbling. Plotting, dialoging, twisting, charactering. Writing, writing, writing.
The Universe will thank you.
*We really do think it, even if only in a tiny portion of our subconscious. Why? Because we've loved and nurtured and sweat over and lost sleep about this manuscript. It's precious. Like a favorite child. Not that we'd ever have a favorite child. Natch.