On How I Broke Down When Writing Feedback Hurt (And Won)

The other day, literally within a few hours of me doing the “I am amazing at this” dance after I wrote what I considered a killer short story submission, I got an e-mail.

Seeing this editor’s name in my InBox brought on a mixture of excitement and fear as it usually does. She’s incredibly talented, and I literally sobbed when I recently got the request from her to see pages of Geist.

Excitement soon turned to crushing defeat.

Phrases such as, “Your writing didn’t resonate with me as much as I had hoped,” made me bleed from my eyes.

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It actually hurts me right now to repeat her feedback. I hesitate to share it with you because I feel like it marks me as a failure — talentless, like one of those people on American Idol who humiliate themselves in the audition phase and make the blooper reel for millions to take note of what not to do.

Her words started me down a wild path of self-doubt, echoing in my head over and over.

I even shouted into the Instagram void with one of those long Stories that I’m mildly grateful now I’m unable to reshare.

I shut my computer and walked away.

This moment, after such an amazing high from writing that morning, demanded a lengthy self-flagellation.

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Me: I must suck at this. Time to seriously rethink my place in the world.

Higher self: I’m literally going to beat you with a stick if you don’t stop this level of bullshit.

Me: But, she said she hated it.

Higher self: No, she said she didn’t connect with it.

Me: Yes! Hatehatehate!

Higher self: *Sigh* Did you read the rest of the e-mail?

Me: Fuck off, I’m going to go mainline chocolate and watch Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant fall in love for the hundredth time.

Higher self: Read it now, you pathetic, thin-skinned pansy.

Me: Maybe it’s this abusive relationship with you I need to reconsider.

Higher self: *tapping foot and glaring at me*

Me: I’ll read it, shut up already.

2 minutes later

Me: Oh.

Higher self: She told you how to fix it.

Me: I didn’t read that part.

Higher self: Of course not, you were too busy confirming your own insecurities.

Me: But, what if . . .

Higher self: Re-write the damn chapter. Dig deep. Consider if what she has told you makes sense, if you have known all along that this needed to be fixed all along.

Me: But, I don’t want to re-write it. I’ll have to tweak the whole front of the book.

Higher self: Do you have an agent?

Me: No.

Higher self: Do you have a book contract?

Me: Stop already.

Higher self: When was the last time someone who has the capacity to get you from no agent and no book contract to agented author with a book deal took time to critique your work and show you specifically how to fix it?

Me: . . . I hate you.

Higher self: You love me.

Me: Why did you see this when I didn’t?

Higher self: Got yer back, baby.

downloadThe whole feedback thing sucked, but opening to truth is often not the finest moment in anyone’s life.

I took her recommendations and rewrote the chapter based on her notes, sent it off to a group of trusted friends and mentors to review and offer their honest feedback as well (per her recommendation), and spent the night going over it line-by-line with my brutally honest husband.

2 a.m. rolled around and I dropped into bed, satisfied that one of the most humbling writing days in recent memory may have opened up a massive wound, but refusing to step back into an old place of “to hell with this” meant it became one of the most instructive writing days in recent memory too.

Don’t let the brutal truth of writing feedback stop you from pursuing the craft. Use it to get better.

Day 38 – Manuscript Pitching On Twitter

The balance between pitching completed projects and working on new projects is always tricky for me. I’ve started blocking out days of the week to separate the two very different mental states needed for each. However, days like today require a quick, motivated shift in gears.

As I’ve mentioned before, Twitter is an amazing place for cultivating writing community relationships, keeping track of other authors, agents, trends. It is also the go-to these days for getting seen by prospective agents.

Pitching a manuscript is a long-term process. So, taking every opportunity to get my work out there requires paying attention and dedicating the time necessary.

D7P-cwQW0AAFYKeToday, I’m participating in #pitdark hosted by author Jason Huebinger

I get to toss out my wee pitch for the novel for more than fifty agents to consider whether they want to request pages or not.

The nerves get the best of me with these things—judgment of the world and all.

 

 

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Are you on Twitter? I would love it if you would retweet my pitch to show your support. Don’t like it, though. That is reserved for editors and agents.

xo

 

Day 22 – Submitting to Literary Agents

The submission process for publishing a novel the traditional way is an act of patience, perseverance, and a bit of luck.

I finished my most recent historical fantasy novel —Geist—(formerly The Maiden of Gevaudan for those who’ve been following for a while. The title sucked, this one is much better. 🙂 )early this year and am currently in the process of manifesting a literary agent who as in love with this allegory on life after death as I am.

I research the agents I submit to, and am pretty particular as to whom I will send my work off. It’s all about fit. I have a fair amount of friends who are agented writers, and they are all about finding the best person (other than yourself) to champion your work and your voice. I’m in this for the long haul and value relationship above all else. So, finding that right-fit representative means no mass emails to every agent who takes historical fantasy.

Plus, I am a shameless lover of the publishing industry and really want to honour the risk agents take on all of us writer types.

Submission sent! Send me some extra juicy good vibes for this one. 🙂

Want to check out what I’m writing about? Go HERE to peek inside.