So I was lying on the couch the other day feeling sorry for myself (tired and uncomfortable and just couldn’t figure out how to start that next scene in chapter 6 and why bother anyway because my stuff wasn’t good enough to publish etc.), generally losing all perspective, when a little voice in my head said, “Write one word.”
I could do that, couldn’t I? That didn’t sound so hard.
I propped my laptop sideways and with one hand typed just the first word in the scene. Then I thought I knew what the next word should be, so I typed that too. Pretty soon I’d forced out a pair of short paragraphs, and my hand didn’t know what to do next.
So I wrote one more word. Eventually, I sat up and employed both hands and got through a whole page.
That voice, at that time, was an answer to a prayer.
I just thought I’d share in case anyone else needed to hear this today:
“Write one word.”
Raven got his first solid rejection yesterday!
And as I’d hoped, it came with useful criticism on pacing and plot issues. The more distance I get from that manuscript, the more I suspect there is still plenty of editing work to be done, and now I have a few ideas of what direction to take.
We’ll see what sort of answer comes from the other agent who has the manuscript in her hands.
I haven’t been at this very long, but I have two pieces of advice for writers beginning the submission process:
1: Keep writing while your manuscript is out. Start something completely unrelated. The more I get excited about Featherfolk and other stories, the less I feel Raven and the Trinketeers is the pinnacle of my work. I’m still on the uphill climb, still improving. There are even more amazing things to come. So if I can’t ever get Raven into shape for publication, I’ll be fine.
2: Remember that you are not your story. You are not even your career. You are a son or daughter of God, and whether or not someone likes your work or wants to publish it has nothing at all to do with your worth as a person. Good news or bad news can’t rock you if you remember that.
Now, back to scribbling.
It’s time for Raven to test his wings (pun so intended). With the help of friends and family, I believe I’ve polished the manuscript up as much as I can.
Compiling a list of agents to query, checking all their submission guidelines, scrolling queryshark to learn the dos and don’ts–it’s all starting to feel a lot like hunting for a job, which is one of the the most miserable things I’ve ever had to do.
It makes me want to retreat to a safer task, like sewing or knitting. Something where if I screw up nobody has to know, and I can always go back and fix it.
But that’s not going to get me published.
This last weekend I had the opportunity to help out with a conference for the teens in my congregation. The theme for the conference was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
It seems I needed to hear that message as much as the kids did.
I can do hard things. I can face inevitable rejection.
Will Raven’s story get published? Maybe. Will I learn how to be a better and more professional author? Yes. Will my experiences help me get something else published someday? Definitely!
So I’m going to grit my teeth and send out those first queries–and try to keep things in perspective.