Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Way of the Warrior - Or Keeping a Stout Heart

I've come to the conclusion over the long years of publication that along with talent, drive and wonderful ideas, it takes a stout heart to succeed in writing.

How many times have I read a rejection letter and thought I'd chuck it all in and never write again? Too many to count. Now, on the eve of my first novella's release (I know it's in December just not the exact date...) I am so thankful that I stuck with it and kept pushing myself even if it seemed like all I would see were doors slammed in my face.

I see myself as a warrior of words. I had to train long and hard, wear the blood of hacked pages and the gore of red ink on my hands, building callouses on my self-esteem until I could reach that ultimate goal of publication.

It took nearly 15 years to get that first sale.

I began getting serious about writing in '92. But I don't know if I can really count that year, since I didn't send anything out then. I don't believe I started sending out for publication until about '94 or '95. All that time, I wrote and worked on craft. But perhaps I should count from the first time I began to query agents and publishers. - If you take into account and subtract the years since I had my first short story published in Writers' Journal Magazine, in Jan/Feb of '05 then it decreases the time to 10 years. Oh...I like this math system. I don't sound like near the failure I thought at first. Hehehehehhee.

The first time I sent something to a publisher, I sent to DAW. I had read just about everything in their catalog. Being a lover of fantasy and sci-fi and doing a search through my bookshelf of who published most of the books I read and owned, I decided they had the majority vote, so I'd try. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Though they ultimately passed on the book, the letter I got along with my returned manuscript was lovely. The editor said he couldn't use the book, but liked my writing and would like to see something else from me. The year was '97 and I didn't have anything else. I switched to more of romantic flavored books after that since I've always loved and read romances, but I've kept the letter ever since.

I think for a first effort that was a great response, considering I look at that version of the book now and I cringe. Literally. I look like I've been sucking on a pound of lemons. I would definately send something to DAW in the future.

I remember opening the box with the manuscript inside and reading the letter. Both elation and disappointment warred inside me...but the bigger slice definately elation. Someone, somewhere with the power to say yea or nay to my dream had actually saw something he liked in my writing. Enough to invite me to submit something else. Now, though I was early in my writing career I wasn't green enough not to realize he'd given me a gift. Editors and smaller houses are too busy to invite an author to submit more material if they didn't see something there they liked. (If you know differently, don't tell me!!! You'll burst my bubble in retrospect).

After I joined RWA, I started noticing all these contests listed in the back of the RWA, and I joined some group loops for the special interest chapters and heard about the Tampa Area Romance Authors unpublished writer's contest. They were extending the deadline that year to give people more time to send in entries. (I think they must have not had enough for a particular category). I looked at the call for entries, and thought....Why the hell not? I hurried....hurried and wrote the first three chapters of a book. I had already outlined it, so I knew where it was going and basically the structure. Imagine my surprise when I finaled with that hastily written partial. Imagine my further surprise when I got a call telling me I'd actually won!! - The award hangs on the wall in my office so I can see it when I write. It's confirmation that someone else believed in me. Quite a few someone elses if you know anything about how contests are judged.

After that the sales started to come. I'd finally found the lucky star I wanted to stand under all along. But my journey is not complete and the warrior in me is still ready to do battle with plot and characters who refuse to do my bidding. - Even with the sales, I've still gotten handed a few rejections for other projects. I don't let them get me down near as much as I used to. Because I know, in my heart that perhaps that particular project just hasn't gotten into the right hands yet...and if it doesn't...well, I've got an entire stable of projects to send out. I'm never in want of an idea.

So... when you feel as if you're not getting any place, or you've just gotten a rejection...remember no warrior comes to a battle without a few scars in their past. It's what separates the casualities from the survivors.


1 comment:

Jennifer Elbaum said...

What an inspiring post!

You deserve major kudos for sticking with it Kat and you deserve the ensuing rewards. Enjoy!