by Mindy Obenhaus
The road to publication can be daunting, to say the least. There’s so much to learn. I wrote my first manuscript before I ever attended any sort of writers’ group. When I finally did, I promptly learned what I had written was a really bad first draft.
I knew nothing about writing. Not even proper formatting. And POV? What was that all about? Deep POV? Ay, ay, ay.
I started buying books on writing, attended every meeting and conference I could. I wrote and rewrote. Joined a critique group and rewrote some more until, finally, after years of learning and implementing, I had something worthy of submitting.
[Insert weird, Psycho-like music]
Yep, sending our babies out into the world is always scary, whether it’s to kindergarten or an agent or editor. Yet while kindergarteners are usually home by mid-afternoon, it could be months before you hear anything about your manuscript. What’s a writer to do?
Well, if your goal is to build a career as a writer, you only have one option. Keep writing.
“But, but,” I hear you say. “What if…?”
Don’t allow fear to stifle you –
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but somewhere along the way an agent or editor might tell you your work isn’t quite there yet. An editor might respond that your project isn’t right for their house. Or they love the concept but want you to rewrite two thirds of the book. You crumble and whine. How could they possibly think your baby is anything but perfect? They don’t know what they’re talking about. You drown yourself in chocolate or something else that’s normally off limits. Then, once the Seekerville allotted 24-hour mourning period is over, you go back and reread the agent/editor’s comments again.
Rejection vs Redirection –
If their response states that your project isn’t right for them and they’re going to pass, that’s a rejection. But things like, “your work isn’t quite there yet,” or “I love the story concept, but I’d like the hero to learn he has a child in chapter one instead of chapter nine,” puts the ball back in your court. That’s not a rejection, my friend, that’s redirection and you can do one of two things with it. You can choose to dig your heels in and lament about how the story will have to change and that’s not how you envisioned it, or you can make changes and resubmit. If your work isn’t quite there, keep working. And above all…
Never stop learning –
In my years of attending writer’s conferences there’s one thing I’ve observed. Bestselling, multi-published authors are always learning. The first time I saw Terri Blackstock sitting in the same workshop I was attending, I was flabbergasted. She was even taking notes! What an example that was for an aspiring author. Of course, the simple fact that you’re here at Seekerville tells me you’re eager to learn. And now with so many online classes, it’s easier than ever to learn right at home.
Publication may be a writer’s goal, but it’s not the finish line. Fear will still try to ensnare us. Rejection and/or redirection still lurks around the corner. But as it says in Hebrews 12, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
If you’re a published author, what words of wisdom do you have for those still chasing that dream? If you’re still waiting on that seemingly elusive contract, what keeps you pressing on? And readers, what do you think when you hear how much is involved in the writing process?