11 November 2013

Am I Strong Enough For This?

Image courtesy of tiverylucky
So, I've previously posted about this roller-coaster ride that is the journey to potential publication. And here I am, riding it again. I've been receiving feedback on my MS, and also starting to query. My baby is officially taking its first steps out in the world. And along with that comes the highs and lows of the writer’s journey.

My first couple of query responses are rejections. I’m down.
I received some encouraging feedback from a friend. I’m up.
I don’t final in a competition (although my scores were pretty good, some of the feedback flummoxed me). I’m down.
The next day, I receive a request for the full manuscript from an agent. I’m up.
I cast my eye over the manuscript, fixing a few small things noted by the contest judges and beta readers, and I decide the whole thing is pretty much crap. I send it off anyway. Feeling down and generally like a scaredy cat.

And it makes me wonder: do I have the strength to cope with this? Am I actually going to go insane?

It’s only the beginning. If I make it over the first hurdle of getting an agent, there’s revisions, submissions… and then whether I end up publishing traditionally or self-publishing, along with the satisfaction there’ll be negative reviews, anxiety around sales numbers… and so on and so on.

This whole thing is tough, and it won’t ever let up, unless I choose to quit. 

I've done this before, and experienced the same highs and lows before, but each time I go through this process I’m that much more invested; the stakes seem that much higher. I'm probably more vulnerable than usual due to life events of the past 18 months. My day job is also a quagmire of stress, and it’s possibly the combination that threatens my sanity. I know publishing a book through either channel won’t be enough to take the day job out of the equation… but maybe one day… a girl can dream.

I had a full request early in my querying last time, and then I got not one, but two form rejections from that agent. So I am prepared for the sting, but the chance an agent will like it persists in the back of my mind, and it’s enough to spur me on to keep querying. I know this MS is not like a lot of single title romances out there – the comments from the contest judges confirm that. But I know there are others out there who have similar tastes to me, it’s just whether anyone in the industry thinks there is a big enough audience to take a chance on it. We shall see.

Am I strong enough to cope with all these crazy ups and downs? Well, the answer is that if I am ever going to make these dreams come true, then I have to be. There are no rewards without risk, and the greater the potential heartbreak, the greater the possible triumph.

The silver lining is the high you get when someone likes your work. And the more I put my stuff out there, hopefully the more positive feedback I’ll get. And that means I have to create more stuff, just keep working, and keep opening myself up to the hurts as well as the highs. Why am I doing this? Because I’m creating the kinds of stories that make me feel good, and I hope that they will make other people feel good too. It’s an explicable compulsion to create, to share, and hopefully, to enrich the lives of others.

How about you? Do you ever wonder if you’re strong enough to make it through all the insecurities? Do you have the perseverance required to make it to the next goal?


  1. Meh! Forget the querying. Enter contests--much more productive use of your time. (And self esteem.) In fact, Brenda Drake has Pitch Wars going on right now, and that's a FABULOUS one.

  2. This is EXACTLY the place I'm at right now. Such a roller coaster.

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

  3. Wishing you every success with your story, Charlotte, and hope the next 18 months brings peace, happiness - and a contract!

    1. Thanks so much Amanda :-) There has been some more ups and downs since I wrote this, but I'm hoping the ups will lead to something positive! It's a test of patience as much as anything else.

      Hope your writing also brings you joy and satisfaction in 2014.