We’re going to start this blog post with a duh moment …
Writing is hard. Getting published is hard.
Now if you can all roll your eyeballs back into place, we’ll continue. Ready?
I’ve talked many a writer friend off the “I’m going to quit” roller coaster. I’ve even had my share of “maybe I should consider becoming a barista”, moments. But I was always able to shrug those moments off and buckle down for yet another revision or another batch of queries or another manuscript.
Because I chose to look at the positive (or sometimes just less negative) steps as milestones.
Before you get the wrong idea, let me me make one thing clear … I’m not Little Miss Sunshine. I’m not that eternal optimist who will spew happy, shiny clichés. I’m not the making lemonade kinda gal (unless you pour some rum into it).
When I first set out to write, it wasn’t the idea of getting an agent or being published that kept me going. It was the challenge of learning. Finishing that first draft of the first story idea was one of those, “holy shit I did it, I really did it” moments. Didn’t matter that it was crap, I was celebrating just getting to the end. I was holding 300-some pages that came out of my crazy brain. Positive.
My first attempt at querying agents wasn’t a whiz-bang success. Neither was the second attempt. Or the third attempt for that matter. I’m not keeping tally of the number of queries I sent out. The first requests for partials and fulls sent me into chicken dance spasms. After that it was a “cool”, mark the date on the spreadsheet, send, move on.
You guys are going to think I’m a total nut job, but what kept me going were the rejections, not the requests. I don’t mean the form rejections on queries but the manuscript rejections. Those were my gauge on how close I was getting. When I stopped seeing consistency in the feedback, I knew it was just a matter of finding that one person who would connect to my voice and story. Positive.
Now it’s confession time. I never saw the manuscripts I was working on as published books. I was hell bent on pursuing publication and didn’t doubt that it could happen, as long as I stuck to my plan. But the idea that what I’d been working on for so long could be an actual book somehow didn’t fully register. Even after my debut sold to an amazing publisher. Weird, I know.
Then this happened …
And it happened on a day when I was questioning every word coming out of my fingers on a new book project. I bottled the frustration with myself and proceeded to freak out my cats with something vaguely resembling a happy dance.
Tomorrow I’ll sit back down to write on that new project. Today, I’ll flip through one of those lovelies and remind myself that I can do it and it can happen. Hello, positive! 🙂
Your turn … do you look at the bright side? What keeps you going when you’re ready to throw the computer into the fire?
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Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world, where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the Tall Poppy Writers. She is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.
Orly’s debut, The Memory of Hoofbeats, will be released by Forge in 2017.