Writing is easy, submitting is hard.
Although, actually, it’s more like preparing for submission is hard. Most submissions can currently be done over the internet and the guidelines, requirements, and expectations are all clearly laid out. It’s as easy as attaching a file and hitting send. The harder part is deciding what to send and where to send it to. It is a lot like dating, no matter how good your profile is you might be swimming in the wrong pond. Finding the perfect match usually takes a lot of trial and error.
I recently sent out my very first submission. It seemed like a good fit, a contest for emerging writers. My story was good, had an interesting topic and was very unique. I wanted so badly for this to be my first published piece (and I still hope that it will be). The deadline loomed and I panicked, rushing to have other writers read my story and give me feedback. Waiting for their feedback was like watching the clock, painful at times. I did finally get some amazing feedback and rushed to make the necessary changes. Scrambling for last-minute advice, I asked a handful of people read the story and their reactions seemed fairly positive. None of the reactions really glowed. I knew right then that my story was lacking or missing something but I sent it in anyway.
The waiting for a response to my submission was arresting. I could hardly write at all. I checked my email constantly and stalked their online submission tracker. I waited for any kind of update or anything that would clue me in to how I did. I have never been that kind of anxious besides during pregnancy. It became long brutal weeks of waiting, wondering and worrying. I started reading my story over and over again and continued to let others read it, listening to their comments. I even took the piece to my new writing class to enlist their opinions on the story and my writing.
I started to feel the weight of jumping in too fast. I began to see all of my stories flaws waving at me like giant red flags. My dreams sinking heavily. The writing was good. The story was good. I had done a good job: but that is all, it was not great. There were some key elements missing. There were glaring issues that needed my deepest attention. I continued to languish in my writing depression.
Then the results came in. My story was not chosen. I faced my first rejection. I won’t lie, I cried (I am an emotional creature so I was not surprised). I was also relieved. I knew that the story still needed work and I was determined to bring those areas out of the woodwork and begin a new.
I admit I am still having trouble. I have written very little since that submission at the end of July. I still languish in the feeling of hopelessness. Yet, I know I must keep writing. I know how to reconcile the problem but have not the fire or the desire to see it through. This essay is possibly the longest thing that I have written since and I am hoping that just forcing myself through this wall of self-doubt will somehow manage to take me to the other side. I cannot indulge this feeling any longer. It is time to dust myself off and get back in the saddle again and this time find the mark.
I know in my heart that I will never give up writing as it gives me something that I cannot get from any other source in my life. It is like water, I can live without it for a while, but not for long. Writing keeps me grounded and centered and allows me to blossom. It adds it’s own fuel to my fire. Without writing, my life is dull and dim. I can’t live that way.
So, today, I will begin the revision. I will allow myself to put my heart and soul into this story I love so much and see what comes out on the page. I will jump back in and enjoy the crisp cold shock of the water and let it wash over me and renew me once again. I will glean through all my notes and comments as I strengthen my story and make the beginning clear and the story concise. This time, when I send out the story for submission, I will let it go, knowing I did my best and will not rush it out the door. I will pick up the next story in earnest and give that one all that I can give and continue to keep the ball rolling back and forth until I finally score.
Keep writing. Keep submitting. It’s all part of the process.