I subbed a manuscript for the first time in a year on Monday. It’s been a long, hard year…but that’s a different story. Anyway, this made me think back on how far I have come in the five years since I started writing, and how some things never change.
For the things that hasn’t changed:
I still hate hitting the send button. It seriously is the most traumatizing part of the process for me. After I have the submission package ready to send, it’s showdown time. I stare at the button, and it stares at me. I wiggle my fingers at my sides as the theme music to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly plays in the room and a tumbleweed rolls between us—not really, lol, but that is exactly how I feel. The moment is intense. My heart is pumping, stomach churning, sweaty palms, the whole freaking nine yards. To this day, I still have to position the curser over the button, close my eyes, take a deep breath and click the mouse. When I open my eyes and see the your-message-has-been-sent notification, the oh-craps start. Oh crap, it wasn’t ready. Oh crap, I should have read through it one more time. Oh crap, the changes I made suck.
The wait never gets any easier either. The obsessive checking of my email started two minutes after I sent it. How stupid is that? Two minutes? It’s like my brain believes I can Jedi mind trick my editor into immediately believing ‘this is the story your looking for’ without even opening the dang doc. Now it’d be cool as hell if it worked that way, but it doesn’t. So what screwed up portion of my mind makes me obsessively check my email when I KNOW I’m in for a wait?
Rejections still suck, as does the anticipation of a rejection. Cause let me tell you something, just because you’ve become published, it doesn’t mean everything you write afterwards will sell. Sad truth.
Now for the things that have changed:
I much more confident in my writing. I’m not talking I am the queen of writing and everyone will love every book I put out kind of confidence—even after a contract is offered I deal with the everyone-will-hate-it blues. The confidence I’m talking about is more the writing aspect of it. There was a point, only a couple of years ago, that if I made the slightest change, I had to have my CP’s look over it. Seriously. Slightest change. Now I save my bothering of them for more meatier revisions.
You will get bad reviews. They used to bug the hell out of me, and I won’t lie, there’s still a definite ouch-factor when I get one, but I can let it go much more easily than I could in the beginning. If one is especially harsh, and I’ve had my fair share of those, I’ll go back and read reviewers who liked my story to help take out the sting.
The more you write the better writer you’ll become. I pulled out an oldie a few weeks ago. As I read the story, which was cringe-worthy, I was stunned at how much I have grown. Years later, I can look back at some of my older writing and I know why it’s still sitting on my hard drive and not on a publisher’s website. The awesome thing about now is I can fix it. I sold The Panther’s Lair that way. Man, was that story horrible when I pulled it back out three years later. Hor-ri-ble. I spent six weeks doing a total re-write of the story, and I sold it. So don’t think just because something isn’t selling in the beginning of your writing journey that years down the road, it won’t. You just need a little more know-how to help fine tune and spiff-up the submission.
In all, the writing journey is hard, even after publication. If for a minute, you think you can write something and it will sale, you’re in for a rude awakening. Now granted there have been authors that sold the first thing they ever wrote, I acknowledge that, but it’s not the norm. It’s a struggle. But let me tell you, even through all the tears and rejections, writing has been the second most satisfying things I’ve ever done—having my kids being the first. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
So good luck to all of you! I’m wishing everyone a happy and long writing career!