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.