When I wrote my novel for my thesis, I couldn’t wait to publish it. I thought it was quirky, sexy, and unique with a few romance tropes to boot – I thought it had it all. So I revised and polished it up as best I could, and although there was a tiny voice in my head that said it’s not ready, I started submitting it to publishers anyway.
With every “submit” button I clicked, the voice in my head started getting louder and louder, but I still didn’t listen to it. I chalked it up to be pesky self-doubt, and I decided it had no right to be there. So on I went, submitting and submitting, unable to click “submit” fast enough, because I was going to be a published author soon guys! And I couldn’t wait.
But then the rejections rolled in.
The publishers pretty much all stuck to a 3 month turnaround, save for a couple who had 6 months, so all the rejections poured in about the same time, one after another like I was a punching bag and Conor McGregor was practicing.
Thank you for submitting, and although there are intriguing aspects, it’s not a right fit for us.
Keep in mind that just because it is not a right fit for us, doesn’t mean you won’t have luck elsewhere.
Basically, thanks but no thanks.
The rejection stung.
I was so hyped up about publishing this manuscript that rejection after rejection, automated message after automated message, really stung.
Then, I got a personalized rejection. One that gave me feedback as to how I might revise, and then the editor encouraged me to re-submit once I’ve made changes.
Y’all. This was everything to me.
Sure, it was still a pass, but it was also encouraging – it gave me hope.
And while I read through the editor’s feedback, I found myself nodding along because I completely agreed with the suggestions.
The tiny voice in my head from the beginning screamed at me: “I told you so!”
Because the truth was, I rushed it.
I knew deep down that the story wasn’t fleshed out enough – it wasn’t ready. But I was too stubborn and impatient to admit it. I’d gone through about nine drafts, and I thought that was enough. I thought, okay that’s it – I’m going to submit it before I drive myself crazy.
And yes, it was driving me crazy, and I was desperate to get it out into the world, to get my writing career going. But I knew better. I knew I knew better at the time, but I was still stubborn and impatient.
Had I listened to that voice from the beginning, I would’ve admitted it wasn’t ready. That I needed a tenth, eleventh, and probably twelfth draft to finish. That it would’ve been in my best interest to be more patient and careful.
I wrongfully heard the tiny voice as self-doubt instead of embracing what it was – my inner logic. I’ve struggled so much with being insecure that I forgot my strengths. I forgot that, hey I know what I’m doing. Sure I have a lot to learn, but I know I am capable. And just because I need a little more time to shape up that manuscript, it doesn’t make me any less capable.
There’s a difference, you see, and I learned it this way. I learned to differentiate self-doubt and just being plain smart.
I learned to trust my instincts. To trust myself.
And although there are times when I struggle (which are often), I look back at this experience to remind myself that I have time. That I want to do this right. That the only way I’ll be able to do this right is to be patient and cautious, but confident in my ability.
There’s a difference between being afraid and being meticulous.
Just trust yourself and your ability to make the distinction clear.
Then be patient and work hard to get it right, whatever that means for you and your situation. Had I done it this way, had I not rushed myself to get to the finish line, maybe it would’ve turned out differently.
Perhaps I still would’ve been rejected by them all – but maybe I wouldn’t have. Maybe that one publisher who thought the manuscript had potential would’ve been more inclined to accept.
And although I’ll never know now, I did learn about myself, and I learned a lesson that I still carry with me now that I’m working on another manuscript. I’m still just as ready and determined to publish, but I know that taking my time to get it right will be worth it in the end. Even if it means I have to go through twenty drafts. I’ll drive myself crazy, but it most certainly will be worth it some day.
Bottom line is – we have time. And it’s okay to take the time you need in order to grow, improve, and get it right. There’s no expiration date or deadline for our dreams.
If you need a year, take a year. If you only need a month, great – take that month. If you need twenty drafts, take them one at a time and remember to breathe along the way.
Enjoy the process, however long it might take.