Rejection, Steps and Time

As you may recall, I submitted two short stories away to places earlier this year. Somewhat predictably, they both came back rejected or “unsuccessful” as was so diplomatically put in the letter. The kind tone was greatly appreciated because rejection sucks. We all know it and we’ve all been on the receiving end of it for one reason or another. It is one of those things that we must accept, pick ourselves up from, and just carry on.

I said before that the first step was the hardest. As it turns out, I was actually right. One of those stories has already been submitted elsewhere. That particular submission is probably a major case in punching above one’s weight but trying is the only thing that gets results. Thanks to taking that first step, I managed to take a second and without even half of the anxiety and dithering of the first. I’m taking those steps toward my dream of being published and keeping up the momentum.

Sending short stories for submission though is just the first in a long list of things I hope to achieve, writing wise. The end game is the accepted novel. The trouble with novels though is that they are big and eat more time than I can eat Malteasers (that’s a lot). I sent book one of my main project off to beta readers this year, at the end of February. It’s really easy to trick myself into thinking that I’m way behind, that I should be far further through this next draft than I am. What I’ve done though is go through all my beta feedback and carefully construct a game plan. Novels are big, slippery beasts and they need time and revisions need plans. I need to remind myself (and possibly you) that creating a publishable novel is a marathon, not a race.

Events like NaNoWriMo can give writers a fantastic head start – but that’s all it is. Taking the easy bit running. Then comes the hard graft and even then everyone works at different rates. I’m slow. Really slow. I also like to work on side projects to keep my creativity fresh and prevent burnout. It works for me, and after this year’s NaNo I am ready and raring to tackle revisions some more.

I just need to sit back sometimes and remind myself that this is a long game, and that being “slow” isn’t the same as being behind.

The Submission Thing

Yesterday I took a huge step in the direction of my dream to become a published author – I actually submitted work to someone who publishes things. Mind blown, right? This dazzlingly simple thing is difficult for a lot of reasons, self-confidence and actually saying “it’s finished” being my own two biggest hurdles.

Somehow, I managed to overcome both of these and have submitted two short fiction pieces. Nothing like the power of a hard deadline to help you finally just bite the bullet and go. Sometimes that’s what you need – a good hard push. I can’t even remember now how I decided I was going to submit but once I had I worked to the deadline. Those stories were going no matter what. There were wobbles, of course. The DAY before the deadline I decided one of the stories was awful and terrible and it just wasn’t going. I went to sleep one hundred percent convinced that I just wasn’t going to send it. The only way I managed to solve the situation was stubbornness. I’d promised myself I was submitting them both. In the end, I did.

I think taking this leap was a hugely positive step, now that the dust is beginning to settle. I’d be lying if I said I had high hopes of either work being accepted, but it’s the principle of the thing. Symbolic, even. It’s about the conquering of demons, standing up to one’s own weaknesses and punting them in the face with the smack of a ‘Submit’ button. It’s about doing things I’ve never done before in the hopes that the more I do them the less scary they will become. That’s how life works, right?

Right?

Okay, so maybe some things are always scary. Standing up to those things though is important. I might be afraid of flying, but no time has been worse than the first. After that first flight, I knew what I was going into and I knew that I had come out the other side before. I gained a quiet little voice inside me that whispered ‘you can do this.’ Yesterday I faced my fears and sent stuff away, and now I’m thinking maybe I can do this.

Let’s face it, I probably have less to worry about submitting fiction than I do in a plane anyway, my brain just didn’t get that memo. I’m hoping for these two be the first of many submissions. And who knows, one day one of them might just make it through.

Did you struggle to get to the point where you were ready to submit? How did you get over it?