STORM Experiences – Reality Check

So, I had a big reality check this week. I submitted a rough draft of a short story to a friend just to get some feedback before I started the big edit to get it ready for publishing…and, I must say, I did not expect what followed.

The review was honest and heartfelt…and my friend was deeply disappointed.

When I read what she had to say, it felt like she was pushing daggers through my soul and my immediate impulse was to lash back. But, I know that reviews about your own work are usually less scathing than they sound when you read them the first time. So, I sat back, played with my daughter, drank some hot chocolate…moped for two days.

None of it really helped. That is, until the moment came that I realised WHY. Why she had been so disappointed. And why it had hurt so much to read all about it. I had not told her that it was a rough draft and that I intended to refine it quite a bit more. As a matter of fact, somewhere deep inside I had already decided that anybody reading my work has no business but to adore everything that I put into words. So, it had never occurred to me that anyone could not like my rough first draft.

Yeah, I’m a bit egotistical, aren’t I? It’s sadly something that most artists suffer from to some degree. Our talent is to create and that means we lay our souls bare to the eyes of the masses. And that, in turn, means that we have to defend our tenders in some way. My way is apparently ridiculous amounts of hubris.

In the end, looking at the criticism again and reading through that first draft of the short story again, it hit me: My friend was saying things I had been thinking while I was writing. Things I had seen when I went back to look at the story. In fact, there was only one thing that I didn’t agree with in her review…and that was just because I had been unusually cryptic about something in the story. Heck, if I had read that without knowing everything going on in the background, I wouldn’t have been able to connect with the story myself.

I’m actually not sure what I learned. Maybe, it’s to be awfully specific about the stage of the writing to the reviewer. Maybe, it’s to find a balance between humility and confidence. Maybe, it should be that I really need to refine drafts a little more before I send them to friends for reviewing. Maybe, it’s that I should listen to my inner editor a little more carefully when there’s something that is bothering her. All in all, I think I’m better off because of this whole incident. In fact, I’m seeing my friend later today to discuss possible solutions. And I’m excited to see her.

See, I have potential for growth! lol *strains shoulder to pat self on back*

Going for a ride – traditional publishing

Emotional Rollercoaster

It’s been a few months since I started sending my self-help manuscript to traditional publishers and I really started letting go of any hopes and doubts related to it. Well, that’s only half true. Quite recently, I was getting myself mentally prepared to get it ready as an ebook complete with intratextual links and everything else the electronic media allow because I was really thinking: Meh, if no one wants it, I’ll just put it out there so my soul can rest.

When I originally sent out my manuscript to my two preferred traditional publishers, I was pretty much convinced that they’d either love it or hate it. So, when I got back my first rejection letter, I figured the other publishing house would be the we-want-to-publish your book house.

Now, to be fair the first rejection was very positive. Whoever handles unsolicited manuscripts let me know that they liked the idea, but they don’t have the budget to do it right now. The person even attached half a page of information on other South African publishers and how to get into contact with them and encouraged me to keep trying.

Two months later, I got my second rejection letter. Compared to the first one, it was sort of a slap in the face. They said that if they were to publish a book on the topic of pregnancy, they’d get a doctor to write it – someone with the required medical background. It was so snooty, I suddenly felt like a real writer. After all, they’d only bother to put so much emotion into a letter if they actually took it all seriously. Ha ha. 😛

Anyhow. Yesterday, I got a letter from one of the second batch of publishers I sent my manuscript to last December. They asked to see the rest of my manuscript (you only send about three chapters initially, see). Suddenly, things felt a whole lot different.

They must have liked the first three chapters enough to want to see more. But is it really enough to get excited about? Is this like those first three months of being pregnant, where you know you’re pregnant but you’re warned not to tell anybody in case you miscarry? Ack! I really want to get excited. But what if I set myself up for disappointment? Good gracious. I’m stuck in limbo.