October 2, 2009

The Journey to Publication…so far.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing short stories ever since I learned the fine art of writing dialogue when I was in the second grade. However, I had a serious aversion to finishing anything. There were countless beginnings and zero endings, because a part of me knew that if I ever finished anything I would need to submit it to a publisher. And if I did that, I might get *gasp* rejected. Combined with my awful fear of failing, was the fact that I had no idea what it was I wanted to write.

After college came marriage, shortly followed by babies, and I didn’t give writing a lot of thought. I dabbled in it, started a fantasy epic that I think is all of ten pages long, and otherwise confined my characters to my mind.

Then I picked up my first Harlequin Romance when I was twenty and pregnant with my second son. And I knew what I would write, if I could ever get over the fear of being rejected. In an author forward in one of the books, the author said she knew she was supposed to be a writer when she discovered that it wasn’t normal to create stories in your head. And I thought, “It’s not?!” And then I thought maybe it was time to give this writing thing a more serious try and stop being afraid of *gulp* laying my soul bare before editors who would no doubt tear my work apart with their mighty red pen.

I went to Harlequin’s website and found that they took un-agented submissions, then I saw that they were doing a contest for the Presents line called Instant Seduction, which required a first chapter and a synopsis.

Long story short, I tanked in the comp. Didn’t get any feedback. And I was pretty sad about it. But, while I had been waiting for the contest results, I’d gone ahead and started a manuscript to submit through the conventional channels, and I felt committed to it. And, I had now gone through a form of rejection and, hey, I wasn’t dead!

So, I finished up all fifty-thousand words of my manuscript and sent the first three chapter of to the M&B office in Richmond, a long way off from the wilds of Southern Oregon.

The ensuing wait was a lot longer than I had imagined, but seven months after sending my partial, I received a revision letter. I revised my chapters and resent them. Then, I received a request for my full MS. I literally could not speak (and for those that know me, that’s pretty crazy) for a full five minutes after receiving that letter.

I got my full MS in the post and settled in for a long wait. But then, three weeks letter, I had an email in my inbox from an editor at Mills and Boon asking for more revisions. More speechlessness ensued. I did the revisions and sent it back, and another four weeks later, received a request for further revisions, a rewrite of the last half.

Doing a rewrite was an interesting experience, and I think it’s gone a long way in making me a better writer. I had to ruthlessly delete twenty five thousand words and just go from there, re-imagine what I had already done. It was a lot of work, but in the end, I feel that the editor really dragged something much better out of me, and the finished product is much better than what I had done on my own.

It has been twelve weeks since I finished up that rewrite and resubmitted it, and I’m going on a year and a half working on this MS.

It’s been the most amazing experience, and I have learned so much. And all I had to to do was get over my fear of rejection and just finish something! I could still be rejected, that possibility is very real, but I’m not afraid of it in the same way that I was.

In fact, I’m busily preparing another MS, readying it for submission.

The moral of that story is that no one but me, and my fears, held me back for all that time. And I think that can be very true of a lot of writers. So get out there and write, then submit!

Maisey


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