“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” – Joyce Meyer
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how I got here. Not sitting in my Oscar the Grouch pajama pants typing this blog post, but, rather, this point in my writing career. Something dawned on me last night and I wanted to share.
Before I get going I want to state that I’m a fairly new published author…as in this year. My first paying publication was unleashed upon the world July 11, 2014. Since then I’ve signed four contracts for various other stories. Even though it may not seem like I have much to show, I’ve been working my ass off trying to make a name for myself. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Hi. My name is Brian and I’m a relatively new published author. It has taken me five, no six, years to get where I am. Oh, and I had no formal training along the way. Everything I know now I learned the old fashioned way–by trial and error, and an unrelenting will to succeed. Even though I made it this far, I realize there are plenty of opportunities for improvement. I’m always trying to tell a better story today than I did yesterday. Those early days were frustrating and challenging. But if we want to succeed in this new era of publishing, we must persevere. I have, and I will. Still, I have my bad days just like any other writer.
And see, that’s what many published authors don’t talk about. We still fear we’re not good enough. We still get rejected. While I can’t speak for any other published author, I can say that you learn to handle rejection in a more professional manner. Before publication it would hurt. Now I don’t let it get to me. It lights a fire in me to show those editors they missed out. It may sound a little conceited, but you have to have supreme confidence in not only your stories, but your abilities as well. You must be your own champion.
Have I mentioned how hard the waiting is? I recently made peace with the waiting. Before I used to shout from the rooftops when I received a letter of acceptance. FYI, don’t do this. Until you sign a contract, nothing is set in stone. And even then, if your edits aren’t up to snuff, or you miss a deadline, you can be dropped. It’s so difficult to sit on good news, but you must learn this lesson. MUST. Case in point, I have a story that was accepted for publication by a small press. I typed up a nice blog post about it. Then I realized I never signed a contract. I took the post down. Until there’s a signed agreement, that acceptance is nice, but ultimately is only a precursor of what may come. Patience, grasshoppers. A different editor at a different press helped me learn that valuable lesson. Thanks, Geoff.
There’s also the waiting after you sign the contract. You wait for edits. You wait for proofs. You wait for promotional materials. You wait for any nugget of news you can find because you’re so damned excited to share any information with the world. Despite our excitement and eagerness, we must remember that editors and agents are people with lives of their own too. They have families, jobs, other clients, and a calendar of commitments. Putting it plainly, they’re busy folks. This also raises the unknown factor. Since we rarely hear back from editors, agents, or other literary professionals when we’d like, sometimes we worry. It’s the nature of being creative, I think. We dream up ridiculous scenarios in our heads of what we believe is keeping editors or agents away. Maybe we’re not as good as we thought? What if I’m not a seasoned enough writer? What if my platform isn’t big enough? Stop worrying. Trust editors and agents to be professional. Plus, the good ones are totally approachable. If you have a question or concern, ask. 99% of the time they’ll be happy to alleviate your concerns.
What can you do while you wait? Write something new! Keep busy. Show your agent, editors, and even your fans that you mean business. Build your resume by creating as many fantastic pieces of fiction you can. Build relationships by submitting to anthologies and magazines. Always have a next project.
My agent and I are gearing up to go on submission. You know what that means? Months of waiting. Yep, I’ve already prepared myself. What am I doing in the meantime? I got the itch to write a new Sci-Fi short story and then I plan on finishing another book (THE MISTS OF CALTHAR). That way my agent will have a next book to shop around. Plus, my short stories have been doing well so my resume is growing. My short stories have appeared in two anthologies this year with two more on the way (late this year and early next year, respectively). I’ve been keeping busy because I want my agent to see that even though I may be a newer author, I’m here to give it my all. Ever since I started writing seriously, I thought about it as a career. I plan on being around for many more years.
If you’re struggling with rejection or wondering if you’re talented enough to be published, don’t. Trust that if you put in the work, you’ll eventually see results. Rejection will never leave, but it will take on a different meaning. You can always improve your craft if you’re determined enough. Stick with it. If I can do it, you can too. One thing I would suggest is stop looking at being published as a dream. Make it your goal and don’t stop until you achieve it. Roll up your sleeves, put your head down, and don’t let anything stop you. Then do it again, and again, and again. And when it does happen, don’t be satisfied with one acceptance. Stay hungry. It may be one of the toughest things you’ll ever do, but, at the end of the day, it’ll be so worth it.
“Sometimes things aren’t clear right away. That’s where you need to be patient and persevere and see where things lead.” – Mary Pierce