Sending It Out

I’m not going to pretend here, I’m still a noob in the writing world.  Well, maybe not 100%.  I feel like I’ve made some progress in the past two years.  I still cringe when I think about some of the things I did and sent out last year.  But I try to forgive myself. It’s all part of the process.  If you are new to writing (or at least to submitting) or you’re not a writer at all, but a kind relative of mine checking out my website, allow me to tell you how the first two years went in my life as an aspiring writer.

First, I wrote some things.  Little things.  Paragraphs in response to writing prompts and the like.  It felt good and I got some confidence.  Then I wrote a short story, a real 2,500 word miracle.  I sent it out to a contest because I didn’t know any better.  I forgot about it for a while.  I reread it a few weeks later and realized I sent out an embarrassing mess and I’m glad very few people have ever seen it.

I stopped writing for a while out of pure humiliation.  But a few months later Pinterest informed me that NaNoWriMo was a thing, and I thought I could do the thing.  And I did the thing, kind of.  I wrote the first draft of a novel over three months that fall.  I thought my story was brilliant.  I revised it a couple of times.  I sent it into the world.  I entered it into a contest.  That turned out not to be an epic mistake.  Don’t get me wrong, it ended in my embarrassment, but this time I got feedback and learned a thing or two.

I also joined an amazing group of writers, The Women’s Fiction Writers Association.  I learned from them and I revised.  I queried agents.  The first few query letters I sent out were embarrassingly unprofessional.  I got better.  I even got one agent to request to see more.  But nothing came of it.  I despaired.  I got over the despair and sent more queries.  I despaired.

I also wrote another short story.  This one I was sure was brilliant.  I sent it out into the world with an embarrassingly unprofessional cover letter. It was rejected, twice.  I thought that was a lot. I gave up on it.  I took a MOOC from the University of Iowa’s Writing Program.  I learned a lot.  I wrote more stories.  I sent them out with respectable cover letters.  They, too, were rejected.

Then I wrote a story for 1:000.  And they accepted it.  Not only that, but they gave me feedback in the process and I learned a little something about what works in a story and what doesn’t.  I wrote another one and they liked that too.

And so I wrote some more short stories and sent them out.  And they got rejected and I despaired.  And then I got over it.  I reread my first novel and mourned the fact that it would never grace a bookshelf other than my own.  But I realized it wasn’t my best anymore.  I could do better and I would do better.

Now I’m working on a new novel.  I love my new novel.  It may never grace anyone else’s bookshelf, either, but I don’t care.  I also just finished a few new short stories. In fact, I just sent one out.  I hope I won’t be embarrassed by it in a few months, but I doubt that.

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