Introducing Negativity Week

by | Mar 9, 2009 | The Writing Life | 77 comments

Boo! You suck! Boo!!

Just kidding.

I am, however, very swamped today, and in lieu of an actual blog post please accept this haiku:

Queries pouring in
Flood, ye electrons, flood on!
My raft sprung a leak

UPDATE: litgirl01 requested a Negativity Week video. I give you…. DOG NIGHTMARES (actually it’s completely hilarious)


  1. Anonymous

    Queries read by line,
    rejections are sad.
    Try, try again.


  2. Josephine Damian

    Nathan, off topic, but did you know you get a nice shout out in the acknowledgement section of Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE?

  3. Marilyn Peake


    Happy query reading!

    I’m going to busy myself with writing.

  4. Melissa

    Queries that follow
    Guidelines and no albinos
    An agent can hope!

  5. Mercy Loomis

    Queries are the suck,
    but how else to get ahead?
    Ah, sweet commission.

  6. Yvette Davis

    I know this is bad Haiku form. I just don’t like to play by the rules all the time:

    Here they come
    They cry by the thousands
    There aren’t enough I-Ching sticks to go around.

    Maybe some of your query-ers should have consulted the ancient runes first?

  7. Nathan Bransford

    I hadn’t heard, Josephine! Can’t wait for it to come out. Stuart’s a champ.

  8. Merry Monteleone

    Poor lovely Nathan
    Sending you a cyber drink
    and query paddle

    Happy reading, and congratulations on the acknowledgement mention!!! I can’t wait until Stuart’s book hits shelves here.

  9. Anonymous

    That reminds me of one of my favorite books…
    David M. Bader’s Haiku U :From Aristotle to Zola, 100 Great Books in 17 Syllables

    It’s hilarious and a great gift!

  10. Marilyn Peake

    Not query ready
    Tendril-wrapped in mad embrace
    I dance with the Muse.

  11. Ink

    Spelling mistakes – oy!
    and rhetorical questions…
    sink, boat, and save me.

  12. Yat-Yee

    I think you should require all of your queries be written in haiku form.

  13. Wanda B. Ontheshelves

    Get a little rhyme in:

    Queries pouring in
    Flood, ye electrons, flood on!
    My leaky raft spins

  14. clindsay

    Yat Yee –

    Actually, I just held a contest where folks had to submit their queries in a haiku format. Just posted the winners. The surprising thing was just how many people were able to convey an entire book idea in such a concise way! I was super impressed with everyone’s creativity!

    Now, query sonnets…



  15. Maria Schneider

    So Nathan, apparently being nice = more queries? Uh-oh…

  16. Jen

    Ew, at least I’m not the only one having a bad week…It’s almost full moon, that might be it.

  17. Marilyn Peake

    Haiku Wish for Nathan:

    Queries of black ink
    Dream them clear as cellophane
    Gaze at the bright gem.

  18. Martin Willoughby

    I know I suck…every time I breathe in quickly with my lips pursed.

  19. Jen

    Cool, who wants to write the haiku for my assessment for my writing unit this semester? Anyone? Anyone?

  20. Litgirl01

    Too funny! LOL However, I would have enjoyed a negativity week video. Something really dark. 😀

  21. Furious D

    Since I’m bad at Haiku, here’s a limerick.

    There once was an agent named Nate
    Reading queries ’til it was late
    Then one day a feller
    Sent in a best seller
    And success was their fate

    Not bad for something whipped up on the spot. 😉

  22. rightonmom

    OK, that was hilarious.
    Poor dog!

    Nary a query
    very scary
    but eat drink
    and be merry.

  23. Lupina

    Doggy nightmare was so funny, yet felt so familiar: writing a query, typing, typing faster, faster, almost there, I’ve sent it, BAM! Head hits wall with another rejection. Duh, walk away, start again.

  24. Lupina

    Two questions for Ms. Lindsay;

    1. Did you ask for more or fewer partials from the haiku queries?

    2. Do you answer every query with at least a form rejection?

    Thanks ever so much.

  25. Lady Glamis

    Ah, here’s to hoping the week gets better. Last week was wonderful. Thanks, Nathan!

  26. Marilyn Peake

    Since we’ve been discussing positivity vs. negativity, I offer my Haiku on Positive vs. Negative:

    Proton neutron fist
    Electron spinning madly
    Push-pull of power.

    (Hmmmm, I might just be procrastinating on the novel I’m writing. This Haiku thing is addicting.)

  27. Litgirl01

    Hilarious!!! LOL My students even got a kick out it. Thank you! 🙂

  28. clindsay

    Lupina –

    The haiku queries were just a contest. God forbid all my queries came that way. Even though some folks who commented on Nathan;s last post seem to think I am the spawn of Satan, I’m actually not that cruel! =)

    If you scroll down a couple of weeks, you can actually read all the entries. There were (I think) 242 haikus in all.

    And yes, I do try to reply to all queries with at least a form rejection. The exceptions are: (1) if something comes with an unsolicited attachment, it gets deleted before I see it (although the sender gets a form response telling them their query has been deleted without being read) and (2) if the query doesn’t follow my guidelines, the writer gets a form response telling them to re-query using my posted submission guidelines.

    In essence, they get a do-over if they screw up.



  29. Anonymous

    Deaf Indian — (for your query endeavor)

    Bravery to you
    Deaf Indian Muslim
    the strong will prevail.

  30. Marilyn Peake

    That dog is a writer. He dreams and bashes his head against the wall.

  31. Rick Daley

    I know who will win Best in Show this year. That was priceless.

    WORD VERIFICATION: petin. As in, nobody’s petin that dog ’cause it’s crazy.

    I swear that’s what it is. I’m not making it up.

  32. Solvang Sherrie

    Did you see that Galley Cat featured you because of your positivity week? Here’s the link

  33. clindsay

    I can’t stop watching the dog video!

    omg…going back to watch again.

  34. Marilyn Peake

    One more haiku especially for Negativity Week, on the amount of negativity words can create:

    Piss, spit, vinegar
    Blood boils, pulse throbs, word bombs hurled
    Pen beats sword, dark ink.

  35. Thomas Burchfield


    Nice job and the 7-5-7 isn’t an absolute rule, as I’ve seen in at least one book of classic haiku.

    Reading online singes eyes
    “War and Peace” on Kindle?
    Some readers still have some doubts

  36. Tricia

    That was so doggone funny, I watched it six times, laughing in the most unbecoming way.

  37. pjd

    the pendulum swings
    making negative progress
    must be a full moon?

    in the interest of NOT engaging in negativity week:
    yay! negativity!
    we must stay positive, even in negativity week.

  38. K.S. Clay

    Great vid, Nathan. The dog should have been barking, though. That’s what one of my dogs used to do in their sleep. They’d have their eyes closed, kick out their legs, and let out a yip. They’d grow still. Then they’d start again. And some people say dogs don’t dream.

  39. Amber Lynn Argyle

    This was so funny, I had to show my boys. We all had a good laugh.

  40. Marilyn Peake

    pjd –

    Excellent idea! Yaaaaaay negativity and all-around meanness! Let’s stay upbeat and positive about Negativity Week! Positivity…ooops, I mean Negativity…rules!

  41. Lupina

    Dear Ms. Lindsay,
    No spawn of Satan would post such thoughtful answers to questions that could each have been answered in one word. Again, thanks.

    The reason for question 2 was that I sent a query in January that at least came close to your guidelines — I did read them — and never received a response. And I felt writing you directly about it might seem like pestering. Since it seems that perhaps it never reached you, may I send again?

    And Nathan, do you ever do-over?

  42. clindsay

    Lupina –

    I got very backed up on queries when I had pneumonia in January so I may not have gotten to yours yet. I get about 400-500 a week, and was out of commission for three weeks so my inbox was really out of control.

    I still have a few queries from January but should be through them by the end of the week. If you don’t get a response to your query by Friday, re-query me and let me know. It’s possible that it went into my spam filter but I check that pretty frequently.



  43. Anonymous

    Poetry sucks.

    How’s that for negativity week?

  44. Anonymous

    Yes, agreed. Poetry is essentially diahhreah (sp?) of the mind.

  45. korastoynova

    That doggy nightmare was hilarious! You had four of us on the floor crying with laughter! Well, I guess it’s good we were crying since it’s negativity week, but in laughter!

    Good luck with all the queries….


  46. Sarah

    The dog video made my day- and it’s been a long one.

  47. Mira

    Oh, that poor dog. I hope he got yummy treats and forgot all about the nightmare.

    Nathan, I am so, so sorry. I know it’s been a few days since I continued our conversation. You were probably wondering if I had given up and abandoned you – but of course not! I would never do that! The last two days just weren’t interruptible, that’s all.

    Besides, I need more time. I want to do something really BIG to show you how much our future relationship means to me. So, I’m gathering some Gautemalan orphans to serenade you. But it’s harder to find Guatemalan orphans than you might think. They’re not just wandering the streets all willy nilly.

    I know! Color me surprised, too!

    So, I need more time. I suppose I could write a haiku about how hard it is to find guatemalan orphans, but I’m not sure I could top your creation, so maybe I’ll wait.

  48. Mira

    Oh, by the way, if anyone has a complaint about the fact that I’m gathering up guatemalan orphans, please address that to Nathan.

    He had nothing to do with it, I just don’t particularly feel like taking responsibility for my actions.


  49. Bookish Cook

    A coworker sent me that video. I thought it was really sad.

  50. Nathan Bransford

    bookish cook-

    Come on, now. Who among us hasn’t had a nightmare about a pack of wolves chasing us and ran straight into a wall?

  51. Marilyn Peake

    Bookish Cook –

    I saw that video on the news and felt really badly for the poor dog.

  52. T. Anne

    Boo to you too! Negative or not, I’m positive this is going to be a very long week. For me anyway. Now back to the dog video!

  53. Anonymous

    Dang it, that happens to me all of the time. At least the poor dog wasn’t dreaming he was being stuffed into an envelope because he was sleeping in a bunk bed and woke up a whole house full of people (that were not my family) yelling for them to stop. Or fall down the stairs sleep walking because you have to pee.

  54. Kristy Colley

    Oh Nathan that was SO hilarious!! I will be forwarding that poor dog to my entire inbox!

  55. Lupina

    Thank you, Ms. Lindsay. I’m so sorry you were ill. I will wait, no problem.

  56. Writer from Hell

    your leaking raft
    this soothing grey, at ease now
    i thought you were brown!

  57. lotusgirl

    LOL! I like Negativity Week already. Bring it on!

  58. Jude Hardin

    Haha! I’m sure the dog was relieved that it was only a dream.

    Author J.A. Konrath discusses literary agents on my blog today, so everyone please stop by and say howdy.

  59. Tracey S. Rosenberg

    “Query me first!” Great,
    but will your query stand out…?
    Include some bacon!

  60. Anonymous

    I hate Haiku
    It is a boring poem
    The change decreases sleep

  61. Anonymous

    How was that for neg…How the blank do you spell negativity?

  62. Vancouver Dame

    So far, this negativity week doesn’t measure up to your standard, Nathan. Too much poetry that’s not to my taste. Hope you get through the work soon.

    To Jude Hardin: checked out your site and the interview with J.A. Konrath. (I follow his blog too) I like his style. Thanks for the alert in Nathan’s blog.

  63. Anonymous

    This is a love haiku for colleen.

    Colleen was pummelled
    don’t be sad colleen darling
    you are still loved.

  64. Scott

    Rejected again?
    Give thanks.
    From pain, inspiration.

    unamifyj (yoo-nam’-i-feezsh) n. 1. a word caused to mean its opposite by the addition of a single letter.

  65. Mira

    Well. In between my exhausting seach for guatemalan orphans, I used this as an opportunity to learn more about haiku. I thought I’d share what I found.

    From wiki, the source of all things knowledgable and good:

    “A haiku is an unrhyming verse form, conveying a complete image or feeling in three lines of syllables, and are usually about nature or natural things.”

    The form is as thus:

    5 syllables
    7 syllables
    5 syllables

    Nathan’s haiku follows the form correctly. And he was able to smush and stretch the topic of queries into a nature format without hurting himself. That’s a good thing.

  66. Wanda B. Ontheshelves

    Witch Haiku:

    1 syllable
    3 syllables
    13 syllables
    10 syllables (token iambic pentameter line)

    Lines can be in any order, and multiple stanzas built up for longer poems. A “nonce” form I created for cute Halloween book of the same title.

    For some reason, 1-3-13-10 sounds like a spell for poof! purple and white striped socks, fav attire of witches everywhere.

  67. Mira

    That’s cool. Create your own haiku form. I like it.

  68. Taffy

    Thanks for the time you spend on your blog! It helps me and quite often, gives me a laugh.
    Weird that you wrote a haiku…I was practicing writing haikus this weekend! Yours was GREAT!

  69. Cat Lovington

    I love this blog and look forward to it everyday.

  70. davidf

    Um, Nathan, I think that dog was having a seizure. Seriously. We’re now the lucky owners of a SECOND dog to have this unfortunate disorder.

    Some people have all the luck!

  71. MarianneSullivan

    I may not know much about being a literary agent, but I do know an awful lot about dogs. That video didn’t make me laugh, that poor dog has a neurological disorder or as someone suggested was having a seizure. It seems infantile, at worst, and just lacking awareness of canine behavior at the least, for his owners to think it’s funny for him to show some aggressive behavior (lunging at a phantom) and then crash into a wall.

  72. J. M. Strother

    I haven’t laughed so hard in years. But since this is negativity week, all I can say is that video sucked. 😉

  73. Marilyn Peake

    davidf –

    That’s why I didn’t find the dog video funny. It looked more like a neurological disorder, rather than a onetime event, to me. That poor dog probably has lots of incidents just like that one or worse.


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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