As I have endeavored to write my first novel, I’ve already learned a lot through all of the highs and lows of this grueling process. I know I am not alone in having learned many of these lessons the hard way, but perhaps someone just starting out will heed my advice and be saved some of the heartaches I have dealt with by reading through my experiences. I hope that if nothing else, you find encouragement through my mistakes and hope in the knowledge that you are not alone as you work on your own writing.
Bitter Disappointment Is An Annoying Acquaintance Who Likes To Show Up at My Front Door at the Worst Possible Times
I learned this lesson early on, though not as early as I would have liked, to be honest. I started my work in progress (WIP) in March and completed the manuscript (MS) a little over a month later. Of course, a huge (read foolish) newbie mistake I made here was thinking that I was ‘done’, but I’ll get to that later. Anyway, I was convinced that I was ready to pitch the book to agents. Like I said newbie mistake.
I set my heart on the Writer’s Digest Annual in New York, which takes place later this month. But there was one huge caveat, I wouldn’t be able to go unless I raised enough funds. Naturally, I created a crowdfunding campaign and, of course, I did not raise enough. Though I did have two wonderfully generous donors who believed in me! Thank you, you know you are! And, at least the graphics I designed were pretty. Once I realized NY wasn’t going to happen, I received my first visit from Bitter Disappointment.
But, being quick to rebound, I didn’t let this setback stop me. I came across a blog competition, #QueryKombat, entered and after a few weeks of suspenseful anticipation, and some amazing interactions on Twitter with some incredible aspiring authors and successful authors, I ultimately learned that I didn’t get selected for the competition. Now this, this truly shattered my soul. I already knew that I was not going to NY, but this rejection hit me really hard. It felt as if someone was telling me that my book was trash and therefore I was too. Both of which were just not true, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t wallow in sorrow for a few days moping about it.
Once more, I found the ass hat, Bitter Disappointment, sitting on my front porch waiting to be let in for morning coffee. As he sat across from me at the breakfast table, he sneered over his searing mug and said heaps of scalding things like, ‘you’ll never get published’ and ‘this is just a pipe dream, you should quit’. Once I got tired of his hateful commentary, I unceremoniously kicked him out onto the street.
However, even after Bitter Disappointment was long gone, I realized that I needed to come to terms with a different kind of disappointment: The Cold Harsh Truth. At the time, my truth was that my manuscript just wasn’t ready. Let’s be fair, how could I expect it to be ready after a little over a month of writing? It was only a first draft after all. Sure, I had gone through and made revisions, but it was the first draft all the same. After this new kind of disappointment settled and I found a way to navigate through the parts of it that were constructive, I used that to fuel me to move forward. I also realized that if I could get over these disappointments, then I could continue to defeat this feeling no matter how many times it showed up.
Life is full of disappointments. Your writing life will be no different. So anticipate it to show up when you least expect it, be prepared for it when even when you do know that it’s coming, and finally get your battle gear on to deal with it. You won’t be able to escape the feeling of disappointment in your writing life, whether that be in small doses or in large ones, but you can overcome it and kick it to the curb each time it does rear its ugly head. Ultimately, each bout of disappointment you conquer makes you that much stronger and more resilient for what is to come in your writing career. Take it in stride, don’t let it drag you down and just keep on moving forward.