the fear of success

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As an author, you have to get used to rejection. I’ve gotten enough “no thank you” emails and letters to have adapted pretty well to them. And despite the fact that I approach every single submission with heart-palpitations and great trepidation (and no small amount of imposter syndrome), I’ve come to realize something about that feeling.

It isn’t about rejection. Instead, it’s a fear of success. It’s the fear of “what if”…what if they want to see the full manuscript? What if this agent wants to sign me? What if this editor wants to help me polish the rough edges? What if this publisher actually wants to publish this book?

There’s a fear that comes with the hope that this time someone on the receiving end of that submittal is going to take you from the pile and pass you down the pipeline…and all that comes after it.

I don’t necessarily write to sell books. I mean, if they sell, that’s great, but for me it is about the story telling, about the journey I’m able to take with these characters, in this world I built out of images in my head and the words I use to describe them.

Sometimes a rejection is just a reason to take a good look at the work and find the places that need polish. I guess the same holds true for a rejection that doesn’t come in the form of an email or letter, but rather it rides on the back of silence. When an agent or editor or publisher doesn’t even bother to respond. That is its own form of rejection.

It stings a little more, maybe, but I get it. These people must look at hundreds of books in a year. They don’t have time to hold the hands of the people who didn’t make the cut.

I got one of those non-reply rejections this week. I only know because I happened to see a tweet from the agency I submitted to stating that they had cleared out their to-be-read pile and were declining to extend an offer to any of them.

I guess that’s as good as I can expect in today’s climate. It means I need to dive back into the work of querying, but it’s also affording me a chance to revisit my draft, smooth out some corners, build in some back story that becomes necessary for the sequels and make the book stronger and better.

Not that it doesn’t sting. It does. But there’s no better medicine than dropping myself back into the world I created and sticking my hands back into the mess.

So I now have all three Blood Witch stories in a single file so I can make sure that the continuity issues and plot holes get sorted out and filled in and the trilogy can become a cohesive whole.

That’s how I’m spending my long weekend, Readers. That and laundry. Because there is always laundry.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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