I wrote a novel. I mean, okay, I’ve talked about this before. But I actually did it. I finished writing it, and then edited and revised and sent it in to the publisher that was hosting an open call.
And . . . wow. I’m not quite sure how to feel about all this. I’m excited about having done the thing I’ve literally spent half my life working towards in some format or other (seriously, I remember being 15 and trying to write a novel, and that was not the first time). I’ve spent the last five years writing short fiction, soliciting feedback, analyzing my own work, learning about my writing process, and experimenting with various forms and formats, challenging myself and trying to grow. Having spent so long in the trying, it feels strange to have hit “Achieved”.
I’m hopeful that the publisher will like my work. I mean, I get that expecting to have my first (completed) novel published before I’m even 25 is outrageous. But dream big or go home, right? And I might as well try. Just because I haven’t been published before doesn’t mean I’m not worth publishing — trust me, that was a serious concern during the writing process. There were many freak outs of the “OMG, why am I doing this? Why did I think I was capable of doing this?” variety. But, luckily, some friends of mine with Publishing Industry Experience patted my hand and soothed my neuroses.
And it’s not like I’m going into this starry-eyed and naïve. I’m well aware of the fact that the publisher may not accept my story — for a variety of reasons. But I also know that there are other publishers I can (and will) try if that happens. Being rejected isn’t a world-ending cataclysm. Being rejected doesn’t even mean that your work was bad. It just means that, for whatever reason, the person making the judgement call at this particular publishing house said “no”. Maybe they said no because of personal bias, or because they already have a similar story, because your work isn’t a good fit with their image/brand, because your story is good but your storytelling skills need some work and they just don’t have the resources to invest in you right now. Lots of good stories hear the word “no” before being told “yes”.
I’ve been told “no” before. I’ve submitted to a few journals and writing competitions at this point, and I’ve heard nothing but “no” so far. I took a chance on this publisher because they were open to previously-unpublished authors. The fact that I haven’t heard “yes” before wasn’t a deal breaker for them. I just submitted poetry to another journal, and in a couple of months I’ll either hear “yes” or the silence that means “no”. It’s a little nerve-wracking, wondering if you’re going to be good enough for someone to say “yes”. It would be easy, after hearing “no” over and over again to decide that submitting that time wasn’t worth it, I should’ve known better, etc., etc. But the truth is, you don’t know until you try. And if I never try at all, I definitely won’t get published.
And, well. Anyone who’s ever met me will tell you that I’m a stubborn fucker with a contrarian streak several miles wide. Being told “no” over and over again just makes me that much more determined to hear a “yes”. To succeed where common sense, statistical probability, and cost-benefit ratios tell me to quit while I’m ahead.
I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.