For this exercise, Ms. Jennifer Probst asks her readers to examine a time in their writing career when they’d wanted to give up, and how they’d gotten through it.
This exercise is most timely for yours truly since the lowest point in my two-year writing career happened a mere 16 days ago. Before I go into details about private pit-of-despair, I will tell you the best way to not give up and keep on writing. Here it is: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE INFLUENCES. In other words, you need to find a support group to commiserate and celebrate with. A mentor and/or a critique partner who know exactly what you’re going through because they have gone through the same. I can’t help but notice how similar writing is to everything that is painfully hard but rewarding (e.g., weight loss, exercise). You can’t do it alone. Find people who will pick you up and drag you onward if they have to. People who would never give up on you.
Okay, so here’s a short history of my writing career. I sat and wrote my first novel (a category romance) in May of 2015. I finished in about two months and wrote another category romance in five months. In November of 2015, I was selected to participate in an on-line critique session with a talented and dynamic editorial director with four other writers. After reading their writing samples, I was humbled and somewhat mortified. I felt way out of my depth. But you know what? Every writer in the critique group was so supportive and encouraging that my heart soared. And a miracle of sorts happened. The editorial director told me point-blank that she had “no doubt” in her mind that I will be a published romance writer, and a busy one at that. Imagine. Less than 6 months into my writing career, I was told I have what it takes to make it. I got goosebumps all over my arms.
In November of 2015, an editor requested my full manuscript after seeing my pitch on the #PitMad Twitter party. The MS was presented to the editorial director then presented to the acquisition board. In the end, the publisher passed in May of 2016. Another editor had requested the full MS of my second novel in April of 2016, so I wasn’t completely devastated.
This other editor wanted to revise & rewrite parts of my MS. She loved my voice and writing, and she wanted to know about series potential and novellas about secondary characters in between the sequels. We talked for more than an hour just braining storming and getting excited over the MS. The MS was revised and presented to the senior editor in August of 2016, who passed despite seeing “immense potential.”
Then my manuscripts continued to receive partial and full requests from various publishers and editors, and thoughtful rejection letters praising my “talent” and “potential” but still no thanks.
Another chance arrived for my second novel in December of 2016 when I got a full MS request. The wonderful editor wanted me to consider some major revisions, so I got right on it. I resubmitted my new and improved MS during Memorial Day weekend 2017. *Gosh, it’s exhausting just rehashing through all this.* I didn’t hear back on my resubmission until August of 2017 when the editor informed me the MS is being presented to the editorial director. A month later I got another revision request to tweak the synopsis. Once the editorial director gave the MS “two big thumbs up,” it went to the acquisition board for the publisher to decide whether or not to buy my book. Three weeks later, the editor informed me that everyone fell in love with my story, but… (WHY? I hate buts!) they wanted one “little hiccup” revised. I made the revisions and the editor liked it (yay!) so she discussed the changes with the publisher. In October of 2017, I got “bittersweet” news about the MS still missing something. In my exhaustion, I mistook this R&R request as a pass.
That, my friends, did me in. I wanted to curl into a fetal position and stare into the void. Hide in the dark. 10 months, 2 major rewrites (like 25k words cut and rewritten – twice), 2 revisions to the synopsis, and all those days and nights of waiting. Torturous, painful waiting. For 10 months. I was exhausted, frustrated and ready to burn the MS. I seriously considered taking a long break from writing. A break I may never have come back from.
But you know what, I have the secret formula for surviving as a writer. Friends. My mentor and my newly published writer friend first commiserated with me and gave me lots of virtual hugs, wine and chocolate, then they got me to get off my butt and put on my #amrevising cap on. And guess what? I came up with a new twist that I love and care about, and I just emailed the revised synopsis to the editor. Now I wait. Again. If she likes it, then I need to revise the MS and resubmit. Again. Then wait. So much waiting.
Traditional publishing is an endurance race. Pace yourselves. Stay hydrated with coffee and wine. Ugly cry yourself to sleep when you’re exhausted inside and out. Whine to your friends, read some books by your favorite authors, then get your butt back in your chair and start writing.