Day 9 of the #PNIWritingChallenge asks a question most authors had better have an answer for, otherwise, what’s the point?
Have you ever received a rejection letter regarding your writing/artwork/job?
I began submitting my writing for assorted things around high school age, I believe.
The very first poem I sent to a contest that I didn’t have to pay to enter was called “Slide”. I wish that I still had it on hand somewhere but all of those things have been lost in my many moves.
“Slide” didn’t win the competition, but it did earn honorable mention and a place in the anthology. Somewhere out there are books with “Slide” in it, under a pseudonym. At the time I was dead set on not using my real name when/if I published. It sounded romantic or something. I don’t know.
That poem is the only thing out there under my supposed pseudonym as I stopped using it almost immediately.
After that contest I started to get more involved in dating and having a social life. I had boyfriends that were less than encouraging about my writing and, for some reason, I believed them. They had no idea if I was good or not.
My ex-husband admitted to me one day that my writing was something he didn’t understand and it scared him. He wasn’t into poetry, and he didn’t like to read short stories, or even stories. Our married life became a skipping record of him wondering why I wasn’t doing something more productive with my life.
Cue me quitting writing altogether for most of a decade.
I stayed busy. I thought I didn’t miss it. I didn’t realize the giant hole that had been created in my heart and soul until it was almost too late.
After my divorce, my kick ass and bad-ass grandmother came to me with a writing competition through her local library. She has always been extremely supportive. She has one grand-niece who is a published author, and then there’s me, working on becoming the next one in the family.
I submitted a story I titled “O Captain, My Captain”. The title is a blatant rip-off of the poem they performed in Dead Poet’s Society. God, I miss Robin Williams.
Anyway, it’s a non-fiction story based on a boat ride on Lake Michigan in a 19 foot motor boat with 12 foot high waves. It was funny as hell, if I do say so myself. My ex-husband may not have thought so, considering he was the captain in the story.
Then again he’d have to actually read something to know about it so I think I’m safe there (I probably should have put in a “light snark” warning there. I refuse to apologize. That man almost killed us.).
One day when I’m feeling inspired, I’ll sit down and re-write O Captain, My Captain here on the blog for you, my friends.
I took first in non-fiction. The judges let me know they were still laughing. I was featured in the library newsletter and received a nice gift certificate to the local grocery store. I kinda wish I was kidding.
I’d love to say that those two things encouraged me to continue submitting my work for competitions or publication. I’d love to say that I had continued to write from that day on, determined to master my craft.
I’d love to say it but then I would be lying to you and I don’t like to do that unless I have to or it proves a point in a post. Go back and read some of these posts from the writing challenges and you’ll see what I mean. I temporarily rewrote history for the story of my 21st birthday, as an example. The Bacchanal That Was 21
My self esteem was so shot back then that I believed I won the library competition because Gramma was a Friend of the Library, a well respected patron, and a part of the community. I didn’t consider it a pity win or anything, but I was sure their knowledge of her, at least, somehow affected the outcome.
I mentioned my self-esteem was shot, right?
Several years later is when I wrote Extremity. I submitted that to an “agent”, was accepted, and never heard from them again. I had to wait a year before I could do anything with that title.
It’s gory, so not meant for certain publishers.
When I finished writing Freedom’s Treasure I submitted it to Harlequin. They declined graciously via email.
I didn’t know who else to send it to, so I just published FT on my own through Amazon. It did okay, especially considering it was a standalone, had never been professionally edited, had a crap cover, and people hadn’t heard of me. I actually made some money for a short time with it. That was a nice feeling.
When I finished At Wit’s End I did the same thing. After my multiple self-edits I sent it to Harlequin for their Intrigue series. They sent another very polite and gracious rejection letter via email. Like before I wasn’t sure what other companies to send it to so I, once again, self-published on Amazon.
Shortly after that I ran across The Company That Shall Not Be Named. They accepted At Wit’s End in a week instead of the 4-8 weeks they suggested it would take before I knew if I was accepted or not.
I wanted to believe it was that good but in my head they were desperate for manuscripts. I wish I had known how right I was about that. Now I do, but it’s a year too late.
I’m not saying At Wit’s End isn’t an amazing book, because it is. It must have been coincidental that TCTSNBN closed their doors a year after accepting me and a MONTH after they released my damn book.
The closing of my hybrid publisher happened in May or June. I’m feeling a little gun shy about submitting to other companies. I came up with a new game plan, which consists of my getting good, well-written novels out there and, eventually, I’ll meet the right person at the right time and things will work out the way they are supposed to.
I suppose one could say I released the wish to the Universe and now I’m waiting on an answer.
I haven’t stopped putting in the work, trust me. This writing gig is hard. The Universe isn’t going to simply hand me my dream, that’s not how it works, but it is going to take some luck to go along with my hard work.
I will say this: Thanks to TCTSNBN I have connected with professional cover designers who are happy to cut me a deal. I am friends with editors and proofreaders who graciously volunteer to edit me for free for life. They know when I start getting contracts like Jayne Ann Krentz or Nora Roberts that I’ll be dragging them along with me.
The Universe has helped, the rest is on me.