Very Nearly But Not Exactly or Entirely

I’m not going to lie. I’ve been struggling with the concept of an “Almost” blog post for days now. It would have been longer, but until the calendar turned to February, I had effectively blocked it from my mind. I think the reason I have trouble with “Almost” is that to me, it’s interchangeable with didn’t, which is a negative, and I try to keep negatives from my internal vocabulary. Consider:

You almost finished reading that book vs. You didn’t finish reading that book. Same, right? Finish the book, and then the almost goes away. You finished reading that book. Hooray! Now you can celebrate!

Because I was struggling with “Almost,” I looked it up. Here’s what Webster says: very nearly but not exactly or entirely. Only sort of a negative, it seems, but also a bit positive too! Kind of like close but no cigar.

I think back to when I started querying. Early query letters were met with form  rejections. I polished my query and resent it and got a few requests for partials. When those turned into rejections, I considered what the agent or publisher had said and revised again. And resent. And started getting request for fulls. And a revise and resubmit. And a “sorry it’s taking me so long, but I’m not quite ready to decide yet.”

You could say, I was almost there.

The “almost” doesn’t represent failure, it represents the distance I’d gone from first query to final query. Sure, I could have told people I almost had an agent the day I sent that first query letter, because I took the time to send that query letter. Almost isn’t a negative, as it turns out, it’s an arbitrary benchmark along the sliding scale of success, but it’s as benchmark with an arrow that says “keep going that way; don’t stay here forever!”

I’ve decided to view “Almost” differently. Now it’s like the last 25 yards of a 1650 (swimming reference) or the final stretch of a marathon. You’re almost done. Just a little more. And then you can celebrate!  


Author: Diane Vallere

Diane is the author of four mystery series. Like her character Samantha Kidd, she is a former fashion buyer; like her character Madison Night, she loves Doris Day movies, like her character Polyester Monroe, she lives in California; and like her character Margo Tamblyn, she has a thing for costumes. Find out more at

5 thoughts on “Very Nearly But Not Exactly or Entirely”

  1. Yes, Diane, at first it feels like a way to hide a negative in an “almost.” But almost there is a good way to put it.
    I also think of all those liminal worlds in fantasy and paranormal mysteries that are not quite in this world, almost a different one, or those people in books that are almost respectable–until the writer reveals their liminal life, hidden from the ordinary sunlight.


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