At the beginning of the year, my goal was to submit something to someone for publication. Whether it was a publishing house, an agent, or something of the sort, my idea was to give it a whirl and get my first rejection (or, if I were extraordinarily lucky, an acceptance).
I’m not sure I’m going to meet that goal – and it won’t be for lack of a polished novel.
It’ll be because I’m not sure it’s worth trying.
This is my long-winded update on where I am with my writing and what I want to do next.
The Mercury Dimension
The Mercury Dimension is the book I finished a first draft of on January 2, 2018. It’s not my first novel. Not counting the drivel I wrote in high school, it was my 18th.
Since then, it’s gone through 2 complete rewrites and about 10 full edits. I’ve had 3 alpha readers, 5 beta readers, and even went so far as to look for an editor (it’s complicated, but I’m not looking for a new editor at the moment).
Lastly, I submitted it to the Twitter contest, PitchWars. The contest is an ‘author mentoring’ contest in which already agented or published authors help new, unagented authors. I submitted because, as somone told me, there was nothing to lose. Even if I get nothing out of it, I at least gain practice writing a query.
I regret the experience in its entirety.
I regret it to the point where I question my publishing goals.
I put off, without concrete plans to take it back up, the idea to submit to agents or publishers.
‘No, don’t give up on your dream!’ You may say
And I answer: why not?
Last December, I asked my mom to read The Mercury Dimension’s first chapter, and she said, “My eyes are too bad. I cain’t read your small font.”
Instead of questioning her abilities with MS Word, I just made a new file with bigger font.
“My eyes are too bad. I cain’t look at screens that long.”
I offered to get it printed at a print shop.
“Don’t waste the money. I cain’t change the font on paper.”
I decided the answer was to get published so that I could see it turned into a professional audiobook. She could listen to it. Her eyes wouldn’t be an issue.
But I can’t help asking: is the problem that my mom has bad eyes, or is the problem that I’ve written something she doesn’t care about reading?
Or, more realistically, is the problem that I crave validation? Was the goal of publishing supposed to replace the fact that my mom doesn’t want to read my stuff? That my art isn’t hung on the fridge, so to say? Is the audiobook plan just a distraction from the fact that I’m not investing my time by spending it doing what my mother wants (which is watching British TV on mute, no subtitles, while drinking tea with diabetes levels of sugar)?
If all that is true, then why go through the trouble of submitting and getting rejected? I already know, just from watching self-published authors’efforts, that going the self-publishing route would sap all the joy I get from writing. If the efforts of getting published aren’t likely to be fruitful (a.k.a. bring satisfaction), why do it?
So I waffle. I think, on alternate days, that I should just give it a whirl. At other times, I think that putting effort into it is a waste of time that could be spent more joyfully.
Back to PitchWars
Like I said earlier, I submitted to PitchWars. As you probably expect, I received no requests for partials or fulls, and of course I didn’t get accepted into the program. Fine – I think it was a long shot anyway.
But then one of the mentors I submitted to had a blog post that said no requests in PitchWars meant you were barking up the wrong tree. That maybe you should rethink whether or not you’re ready. If your book didn’t get any requests, it’s probably a bad book – write something new.
I wasn’t, obviously, even in the top fifth of submissions. After all this work, where was I going? What was worse was that all of my betas and alphas except one had pretty good feedback. Most of the bad feedback was contradictory or focused on easily fixable minutiae. One beta reader, though, seemed not to enjoy it. I updated based on their suggestions, but a couple things from that read are dangling still. I don’t think it possible to fix the issues without destroying the plot. The story is, if that reader was correct, irreconcilable.
So that blog post in combination with my last beta reader’s feedback was pretty rough. TMD is my 18th novel. Just ‘write another one’ isn’t good enough advice for me right now. I realized that, on top of my day job, blogging, and taking care of just general life crap, dealing with that rejection might just be unnecessary. I may be one of those writers you see who is actually terrible but chooses to believe in a delusion (please let me know if that’s true). If, after 18 novels and what I consider to be a prodigious amount of self-guided study, I am still pumping out garbage, I should probably alter my hobby’s outlook.
But wait! There’s more!
I still really like pumping out that garbage, though. And, you know, I’m about 2/3 the way through a new novel. It’s working title is ‘Redneck Spider’ and is about a bunch of rednecks who find and decide to keep a giant spider that had been secretly created by the government. The story begins after these white trash folks are discovered, arrested, and safely housed in a secret facility in northern Nevada (Tom Darby has invaded my psyche, I swear). The story is told through a series of interrogation flashbacks and interviews conducted by ‘the interrogator.’
Anyway, it’s a really weird tale. I don’t know where it’s headed or what I will do with it.
Looking for Critique Partners
I would like to start a serious writing and critique club. If you have stuff you want to share with critique partners, I am game for a swap. I am also game to hold an online critique club, if I can get participants. Comment below if you’re interested.