I was telling the author of the December story the other day that I believe the big difference between me and a lot of authors who haven’t been published is because I’ve persisted.
Now, there are inevitably times, as a writer, when the continuing round of rejections or inability to get the words down on the page the way you want them too leads you to days when you just don’t want to write. You might even go so far as to wondering why you bother at all, and maybe you should give up.
One of the things that keeps me going when I have days like that is to consider all the nice comments I’ve had about my work over the years. Not necessarily from reviewers or critiquers, but when someone that I consider an expert in the field, someone with gravitas, says they like my work. That’s probably not fair to the people who do like my work that don’t fit into that mould, but then I admit that I am, on occasion, incredibly shallow and this is one such occasion.
So when I’m wondering ‘why’, it’s to times such as when Piers Anthony said a story of mine had merit that I turn. This was actually one of the first two stories I ever had published, back in 2001 – the editor of the anthology knew Piers and sent him a copy. After Mr Anthony lived up to his ‘cranky old man of sci fi’ title by saying quite bluntly that the stories were amateur and needed more work (and he was right), he then said that if he had to pick some stories that he kinda liked, it would be… and one of the two stories he named was one of mine. Vindication!
As I was selling the Dream of Asarlai trilogy in 2008/2009 and wondering if I should continue, it was having nice things said in the rejections – eg “this isn’t for us, but it’s one of the better submissions we’ve received “ or “doesn’t fit with us, and I tried some of our other imprints and it doesn’t fit there either” or “your writing is strong and the worldbuilding excellent but not for us” or “writing is good and storyline well done but not for us” – things that told me that while it wasn’t right for that publisher, it was still a well-written story. Experienced editors and people in publishing think I can write is the message I got from that.
Most recently, my contemporary romance ‘Arranged to Love’ got really close to being acquired at TWO publishers, only to fall at the last hurdle. One was because the publisher wanted erotica and this wasn’t – nothing I could do about that. The other was a problem with one character in one part of the book- I can fix that. But otherwise, I knew I was onto something and I just had to keep going until I found the write balance of story and publisher.
So for me, while having friends believe in me, it’s also nice to get the feedback from the industry that I’m not being ridiculous in chasing this dream, and that if I keep working, and keep submitting, and keep learning, I can get there.
Interested to hear what keeps other people going.