My road to publication has been paved with revisions…and the occasional groan and cuss…smiles and butterflies fluttering around in my belly because, above all, writing makes me happy. But in between bouts of joy and exhilaration… Revisions, a.k.a. Hard Work, or, How Bad Do You Want This?
I was asked to revise my latest submission. As I said, been there, done that, not a shocker when you’re a relative rookie in this game, but I was somewhat surprised my reaction was the exact same it was first time around: OMG, they hate it. Why do they want it since they hate it? And the inevitable insult to injury: You do know this means your manuscript sucks like a leech and so do you?
That is the gut response, your stupid wounded pride crying like a baby because no one sees how awesome your story is, how stellar your writing, how sincere your effort at excellence. Hold up. Isn’t that why you are being asked to revise? Because someone sees the potential, not only what already is but all that could be? That is why I could not believe my editor when she asked IF I was willing to do it.
What do you mean if? Offered the chance of not only making their story shine but getting it out there, people walk away? All the time, she said. Well, I guess they don’t want to get published all that bad after all. If they’re thinking some other editor won’t notice they still need to work on their work, maybe they don’t deserve to get published. If they’re not prepared to do the work required, maybe they’ll never get published, and whose fault is it if they never are?
I understand the fear, I really do. The fear of rejection, the fear of failure. The fear of forgetting what you loved about the story and the characters in the process, what got you writing in the first place. The fear of ending up hating what you loved because when the damned thing boomerangs back to you, you’re probably in the middle of something else entirely, your next story, and the old story is yesterday’s news.
I understand all those feelings of doubt, coming face-to-face with everything that is wrong with your writing. All the What Ifs. What if my best isn’t good enough? What if all the time and effort I put into this amounts to nothing? What if they end up saying no? Wasted time, wasted effort, thanks for nothing. Hold up. Worst-case scenario: the What Ifs materialize and it is a no-go for your story. Tell me you didn’t learn a thing in the process and I’ll be forced to ask were you even there. And tell me this: Are you really brave enough to turn down an offer others would pay good money for so you can one day wonder, “What if…” I’m not.
Sticking your neck out and submitting a manuscript takes a certain amount of confidence, but it takes even thicker skin facing whatever happens next without reeling, be it good, bad, happy or sad. Take the risk, grab the opportunity, and run with it. You’ll never know if you don’t go, and that applies to everything under the sun. But be prepared to work for it, to show ‘em what you got, to show yourself you can. I promise you, you’ll never respect yourself more than after proving yourself to yourself. Sometimes the only one holding you back from doing just that is you.
Alex Rising (Ellora’s Cave Publishing). She lives in Scandinavia with a striking Viking, their children, and in the hopes of one day writing full-time. To see how it all plays out, visit Dita’s Den.