I posted something the other day to my online writing group. While some of the references are specific to the group, I had numerous people thank me for saying this. So, I’m sharing with more of you. Here’s hoping you take something good away as well.
Submitting any writing is a nerve wracking experience. Whether it’s a poem for a school newspaper, a challenge here, or a story to a publisher, it’s one of the most difficult things to do.
We all have different reasons why we write. Some are content to write for themselves and never share their words, while others dream of being the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. The thing that drives each of us varies as much as the personalities on this list.
Hitting that ‘send’ button is, especially at the start, one of the scariest things we’ve ever done. We’re now asking strangers to read our work and draw a conclusion on it, for good or bad. No one wants rejections, though it’s a part of the learning curve for those wanting to be published. In all honesty, I was more terrified that a publisher would say yes than no.
I’ve found this group to be, 99.99% of the time, encouraging, positive, and incredibly helpful as far as learning where I screw up and when I get it right. But I was still absolutely TERRIFIED of submitting anything to the group as a whole for about 3-4 months when I first started (about 4 years ago). What if no one liked it? What if it was so bad that people told me I should give up?
What if they liked it?
You take a deep breath and hit send because you WANT the feedback, you WANT to improve, you WANT to get to the point where a publisher or agent says yes. You hit send because you want to prove to yourself, your family, the doubters around you that you ARE good enough to get what you want.
Shortly after I got my contract, I was having a hard time accepting it. There are so many talented people in this group, people who have been writing for a decade or more. I didn’t understand why I had a contract 3 1/2 years after I started writing and my contemporaries remained on the outside looking in. I was talking with Tony about it. He told me something that I’ve repeated often. The simple truth was this:
I. Hit. Send.
It wasn’t that I was better, or that my book was that amazing of a story. It was that I finished it, got it polished up, and refused to take no for an answer. I kept hitting send until someone saw the merits in my book.
Was I scared each time? Gods, yes. I know that my first thought when I saw the email that had the contract attached was, “Well, here we go. Another rejection. I’ll have to see who to submit to next once the power comes back on.”
The only thing stopping ANYONE from submitting a challenge story is their own fear. We see each other on the list as our peers. Some we respect a great deal, others become good friends, and some make my jaw drop and feel like a complete hack next to what they can do.
But I guarantee you that each one of them is, or was, just as afraid as you are.