Hurry up and wait


So, I submitted a query to a “dream” publisher on May 30.  I received a request for my full manuscript on June 8.  I had one week to submit.

So, I got 5 sets of eyes on the manuscript.  I edited…read again…edited…read again…rinse and repeat until I couldn’t do anymore.  Around 2 PM on June 14, I held my breath, closed my eyes and hit the ‘send’ button.

Of course, after I submitted, I found mistakes.  It was driving me  nuts.  Several of my lovely writer buddies told me to put it away. It was gone. Nothing I could do about it. Still, I wanted it polished. I wanted perfection.  One side of my brain said there is no such thing. The other side of my brain said yes there is.  I’m conflicted, can you tell?

It’s been 4 days.  I haven’t received a confirmation e-mail that the publisher received the MS, and the website says don’t ask.

So now after all the hurry, I sit and wait.  My nerves are frayed. I may eat a finger or two, maybe a hand, before I hear anything. Pray for me.   My fingernails are already disappearing.

ahhh
Copyright: robodread / 123RF Stock Photo

“R” is for Rejected/Rejection


Hi, everyone!  This post is part of the A-Z challenge. Please take time to visit the other blogs that are participating.

For a writer, getting a rejection letter is one of the worst things that could happen.  After days, weeks, months, even years of pouring our hearts into a story only to be told to take a hike is a difficult pill to swallow.

Over the years I’ve submitted a variety of material for publication.  In my early years I submitted to magazines a lot.  Most of the time I got the standard form letter…Dear Jenny, thank you for submitting your work to [insert name of agency/magazine, etc.].  Unfortunately, it is not a fit for us at this time.

Okay, no problem.  I’m down with that.  I mean, they didn’t say my writing was bad; just that it wasn’t a fit, right?  Gotta move on.  Keep going.  For almost 2 years I diligently sent off articles, short stories, etc. with no luck.  After a while, the rejections began to take their toll.  Was I really that bad of a writer? Surely someone liked something I wrote.   I changed tactic and started submitting short stories for competitions.  Didn’t win anything.  Then I started looking for homes for some of my short stories, submitting to anthology competitions.  Again, nothing.  Not even one bite.  I decided to take one more chance with a short titled “When Herman Cries”.  It was a children’s story about a goldfish who lost his mother and cried so much, his tears overfilled his fish tank.  It was a story of grief and how kids find solace in the simplest of creatures.  I received the worst rejection I could have ever received.  I’ll never forget it.  Paperclipped to my returned story was a yellow note that simply said in black marker,

There was no salutation, no closing.  Just those four words.

I was devastated.  Two days later, in a heated argument, I tore up my first completed novel, “One Night With You”…a fictional piece about Elvis Presley.  I put my typewriter and pens away.  That was twenty-two years ago.

In 2003, the writing bug returned to me again.  Wait. Let me rephrase.  It didn’t return to me. I returned to it, and oh, how my heart rejoiced.  It was like being reunited with an old and dear friend.  How could I have shunned my soul’s calling for so long?  I began writing again, anything and everything…poems, short stories, flash fiction, novels, novellas, editorials.  You name it.

For the past seven years I’ve done nothing but work on perfecting my own writing as well as those of others.  I’ve read a lot, joined critique groups, landed a few lifelong beta partners.  The internet has been a lifeline for me and other writers, offering outlets that didn’t exist 22 years ago.  Now, my writing is better, crisper, but I know I still have a long way to go.  I still get rejections and they still burn, but I’ve also received requests for partials and a request for an entire manuscript.  And while each rejection stings, they are the yellow bricks that line the road to publication.  I have a belief in myself and my writing now that I didn’t have 22 years ago.  That publishing contract is close, I can smell it, and when it finally happens, I’ll have all the ‘Thanks but no thanks’ I ever received to thank for it.  What a journey it’s been.  What a fantastic journey it’s going to be.

What about you?  What was your worse rejection letter and how did you overcome the sting?

K is for Knack, Kudos and Kleenex


This is a continuation of the A-Z blog challenge.  Click here to see the list of all 1935 participants!

For the past several weeks I’ve tested my writing capabilities like I’ve never done before.  I wrote a short story based on a picture and submitted it to a publisher for an upcoming anthology.  This was no easy feat.

I stared at the picture a lot, actually for a couple of months.  I thought I had a story I wrote years ago that would work.  I dusted it off and after reading it again, decided it belonged back in the vault. I was back to square one.  I then started reading through some other unpublished pieces and decided to take a few things out of each one that I liked, and weave a new tale that would capture the essence of the picture.

It was more difficult than I thought it would be.

Slowly but surely, a story emerged and I was happy with it…well, I was happy with the 1st half of it.  The second half sucked, with a capital S.  Even my beta readers agreed. However, with their comments, I brainstormed and came up with another half that we agreed was much better and presentable.  I submitted the story to the publisher.  That was April 2.

The next day I received an e-mail from the publisher. My heart almost leapt out of my chest.  I held my breath and opened the e-mail.  They liked the story but wanted changes. Would I be willing to make them and re-submit?  Can anyone say, “Heck Yeah!”  I had until April 11 to resubmit.

I thought about it, racked my brain, tortured my beta readers while offering my own critiques of their short stories for the same anthology competition.  Amazing enough, it never felt for a moment like we were competing against each other.  We were three authors working together in hopes of being published together.  And, because we were all part of an online writer’s group, the three of us had tons of support from the other members.  I can’t begin to say thank you enough to our support team.

In the wee hours of April 11, I sent over a revised copy of my short to the publisher.  An e-mail from the publisher around 11:40 yesterday morning sent my heart racing.  Was it good news?  Bad?  With a knot forming in my gut, I opened the e-mail.

They wanted clarification and ideas on how I would change some things.  Would I give them in-line comments on how I would fix some things?  Whew.  Not a denial.  I answered “Yes”, and I provided them with what they wanted, but let me tell you, the self-doubt kicked up a notch.  Here I was in the second round of edits and I still missed the mark.  What does that say about me as a writer?

Wait.  No.  Don’t go down the pity path, I said to myself.  They were requesting information from me.  That meant they were still interested.  Stay focused. Stay positive. The next round of e-mails concurred with my ideas and I got the “We’ll let you know” e-mail.  Okay.  Still in the running.

Today, I sit and wait.  Only five out of all the submissions the publisher received will find a home in the new anthology.  Part of me feels very positive. I mean, I gave it my all; the other part feels like I’m an outlier statistic.  These are feelings I think all new authors feel and go through.  Our hands sweat.  We get nervous.  We check our e-mails a gazillion times and pray when we get the one that counts, it’s good news.

No matter what the outcome, I know me.  Tears will fall, either out of joy or sadness.  The box of Kleenex is already on my desk.  I will cry for those who made it, and cry for those who didn’t, but never once will I doubt we all have the knack to tell a great story.  Kudos to all who tried and took the chance, and to my beta sisters who submitted along with me…you rock my world and I am blessed to have you on my side.  Good luck to each of you.  My fingers and toes are crossed.