A Journey from “The End” to the Beginningby Brenda Whiteside
There’s a fine line between confidence and abject insecurity. For an author, the abject insecurity can sneak up at any time and stall you, or at least convince you that every word going from head to computer has bypassed the creative juice chamber, instead coming out dry and tasteless. Such is the journey. And we all travel this road differently.
My tale is directed to all authors, but in particular to the aspiring author. The path to getting my first book published could have been a dead end, had the order of events happened differently.
I love to write about characters on a journey, traveling both the physical and the mental roads. My first novel-length release, Sleeping with the Lights On, is the story of such a journey for my heroine, Sandra Holiday. Along the fictional journey, I created pitfalls and summits, conflicts and resolutions for Sandra to experience. The road to publication is no different, although as authors we’d like to skip the pitfalls and conflicts.
The abject insecurity I mentioned earlier usually hits me three times when I’m writing a book: two chapters short of completion, while I’m writing the synopsis, and again right after I type THE END.” I always manage to muddle through the last two chapters, a whip in one hand holding off my negative inner critic. I wring out those chapters, a word at a time. I won’t even go into the torture of writing a synopsis. But the final phase, the “Now I’m finished, so who will publish this inadequate book?” phase, is the hardest to overcome.
When I finished Sleeping with the Lights On, I entered two contests with the goal of either confirming or putting to rest my insecurity. Let someone else judge the book’s worthiness. And then I waited.
I’m not a patient person. In a rash moment, I queried one publisher. When the Wild Rose Press responded quickly, asking for a partial [copy of the manuscript], I was left giddy. A few weeks later, they requested the full [manuscript]. Jump ahead three months to “the call” – or, really, the email. Excited? Oh, yes! Insecurity? Gone in a flash.
But here’s the difference between fiction and reality: between the logical order of events, an author writes and experiences real life. Two days after getting “the call,” I received notification on the two contests. The judges had a slightly different response to my book. In fact, one judge slammed my baby harshly.
Rejection is hard to take, regardless of how thick your hide, but I have to say rejection is much easier to handle when you’ve already been accepted for publication. The journey to getting published is much better when the summit comes first and you can look down at the pitfall and scoff – with confidence. I’ll never know how I might have reacted to those less-than-winning critiques had I not published first. Would I have shoved the book into a drawer to collect dust? I hope not – must be a moral in this tale.
I haven’t found a cure for conquering the insecurities, but perseverance gets me over the crest. I won’t quit entering the occasional contest, but I’ll not take the results as the final word.
Is there a book you’ve read and raved about that a friend found dull or boring? If you’re a writer, have you let a contest result influence what you did with your manuscript? Have faith in yourself and keep on writing.
Brenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. Visit Brenda at brendawhiteside.com or on Facebook. Tweet with her, too! Brenda blogs the 9th and 24th of every month at RosesOfProse.blogspot.com, and she blogs about writing and prairie life at BrendaWhiteside.blogspot.com.