I recently submitted presentations for a conference, and just heard back that mine weren’t accepted. I also submitted full reads to two editors who requested them at a conference last year. One turned me down, the other still hasn’t responded, although he acknowledged he’d gotten it. I submitted chapters on-line to a publisher and an editor, and haven’t heard boo since.
You’d think I’d be starting to see a pattern here, but I’m not.
What I see is that I need to work harder at getting my work and myself out there to more people in more places. I need to submit to more contests. I need to make sure I attend as many conferences and workshops as I can afford and have time for, even if it means 6 hours of driving time to do it. I need to make sure I’ve got fresh pages for my critique group to look at. I need to network my fanny off.
“Why?” you ask. Well, it’s not because I’m a glutton for punishment. It’s because I know that I’m a good writer. Hopefully I’ll eventually be a great writer. And the only way I can make sure that my writing gets me further than my own front door is to get my work out in front of other people. Yes, it’s painful to get a rejection (or dozens of them). I’m an introvert, so the thought of making a presentation in front of my peers frightens me, but everyone starts somewhere, and I’ve managed to live though the presentations I’ve made in the past. There are a lot more agents and editors out there that haven’t rejected me, and I have more than one manuscript to send, so it’s way too soon to give up on even those who have said no. And of course, there’s always self-publishing.
But. And to me this is a big but (as opposed to my other big butt). No matter whether I am traditionally published, small press published, or self-published, I want my work to be as close to perfect as humanly possible. And that means someone besides me needs to give me feedback. Harsh criticism, even. I don’t want any “Oh, I love it. It’s just perfect,” because I know it’s not. I’m not sure there exists a manuscript in the world that is perfect. That has all
the exactly right words. No punctuation or spelling or grammar mistakes. No continuity glitches. No green eyes that change to blue. I’ve never read one anyway and I read a LOT.
So what I want to hear, and what I want to use to make me be the best I can be, is constructive criticism. Challenge me to use better, more descriptive words. To actually read Strunk and White and get that grammar or punctuation glitch out of my head and my hands. To ensure that what I send to those agents and editors, and ultimately my readers, is more than good. It’s great. It’s the best they’ve read (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). So I’m not quitting. I’m going to keep submitting proposals, chapters, contest pages, full reads, and anything else I can, to get my books in reader’s hands, so they can read the last words, close the book, and say, “Damn, that was great.”
How about you?
As a life-long writer, Terri Benson has one published novel (An Unsinkable Love), award winning short stories, and over a hundred articles – many award winning - in local and regional magazines and on-line e-zines. She has been a member of RMFW for the last several years, and her employer provides the location for the Western Slope events. She is currently promoting Western Slope events for the RMFW Publicity Committee, pelting RMFW with articles for the newsletter, and randomly blogging.
Her book, An Unsinkable Love, is temporarily down as the publisher has recently been bought and her rights reverted. But never fear, she shall overcome and those of you clamoring for a copy shall be satisfied! Visit Terri at her website. She can also be found on Facebook.