How The Hell To Do This, Part The Sixth: Submit!
So this is neither a regular series anymore, nor is it happening on Mondays. I’m keeping the title around because I like alliteration, but if there’s one thing that’s made itself abundantly clear over the last semester, it’s that regular blogging is much harder for me than regular story-writing.
Nevertheless, here’s this installment: for when you’ve written and beta’d and edited and written and edited and written some more, and you have something that you’re really happy with.
So now you send it out.
And yet I get the sense that a lot of people struggle with this part. Which makes total sense – before, the people reading your stuff have probably just been you and some people you at least know sort of well. Now you’re sending your little story that you love and worked so hard on out to people who don’t know you at all. And they’ll look at it, and you know that it’s likely that they won’t want it. That they’ll reject it.
Buddy, that hurts.
And it hurts every single time. It gets a little easier as you go, but really it’s always pretty much a downer. I’ve written elsewhere about what I think some good ways to handle the agony of defeat are, but really the one thing I’ve found that always seems to work best and most immediately is sending it back out again. But if you even want to get to that point at all, you have to submit the thing in the first place. And again, that can be a really hard step to take.
How to make it easier? I’m honestly not sure. I’m not sure there is any one way – everyone is different in every aspect of this process anyway, but when it comes to this particular jumble of hope and fear, I think people’s individual differences are likely to be of even greater than normal consequence. So whatever works for you is basically going to just be what works for you. And it may not work for anyone else but you.
I think perhaps it helps to remember what’s at stake, though: You worked hard on this story. You really (I assume) believe in it. That means that a lot is out there to get stomped on with that first rejection slip, true – but I think it also means that a lot is there to be lost if you never send the story anywhere. What if it gets accepted? What if it would have been accepted, but it never got the chance because you could never let it go? And what if someone out there would have really enjoyed it, and has now been denied the chance? There are few things that feel as awesome – I think – than someone you’ve never met, someone who has no reason in the world to go out of their way to be nice to you, dropping you a line to say “That thing you wrote? I really dug it.”
There’s also the issue of meaning to submit but never feeling that the story is quite good enough. The impulse to edit and tweak endlessly. I’m not sure what to say to that either, especially given that I tend to err rather heavily in the other direction. But I think that usually, when a story really is done, you know. And if you don’t, hopefully one of your betas will tell you.
If you’ve worked hard on your story, it deserves a chance out in the big scary world. You owe it that. So get it out there. And when you get rejected – and yeah, that’ll probably happen, and it’ll probably happen a fair amount – get back on the horse and send it out again. Hope and persistence are really necessary in this. Perhaps to a slightly loopy degree.