My first acceptance came as a rejection. I submitted my short fantasy story Neck of the Foot to an online magazine and heard back the very next day. Did a quick response mean it was good news or bad news?
The editor like my voice, my style, the story, but—and it was a big but—my prose was too passive. He wanted more action and a change in point of view to quicken the pace. He even gave an example.
At first I was offended.
I loved my little-story-that-could, but after a lot of thought I realized Neck of the Foot “couldn’t” unless I took his critique and made some changes. And guess what? The next response was a big fat YES!
Suddenly I was a published author. Paid in pennies. Known to a small readership. But published.
Yes, I can see mistakes in that first piece since years of continued writing have gone by but it was the first and will always be my favorite.
Some authors refer to their stories as their children. I can’t really relate. I’ll defend my family to the death but I won’t defend my writing. It speaks for itself. If it’s bad or good is subjective. If it’s misunderstood, it pains me and makes me more determined to improve but when I hit submit or put a manuscript in the mail, that’s it. I’ve released my voice, let the wind and the wave and the power of print and the internet carry it where they may.
I see submitting my work like releasing a balloon into the atmosphere. It may reach the sun or be snagged by a tree, caught up in a power line, or blown into ocean. Wherever my words land on hearing or deaf ear, I try to be Zen about it.
It’s not always easy. Like everyone else, I’ve received a bad review here and there and damn if it doesn’t burn while reading them. But then I have to remind myself that I’m not writing for everyone.
First and foremost, I’m writing for me, and coming in on a close second, I’m writing for people with something in common with me. Readers who love what I love: fantasy, science fiction, romance.
I may not always communicate perfectly with them, but I get them and they get me and we’re in this story together, wanting to be surprised and in love and entertained. We’re partners.
I work to keep up my part of the partnership. And listen to my readers whether they say they loved it or hated it. That’s what writing is all about. Communication. Being understood. Getting it. Because while selling a short story or a poem to a magazine here and there is great, what I really wanted was for my novels to be published by a real publishing house.
Jocelyn Modo may be crazy but writing keeps her from going insane. She grew up reading science fiction and fantasy and fell in love with romance when her girlie hormones kicked in. Nothing makes her day like working on her current manuscript…and nothing makes her crazy like working on her current manuscript. But all’s fair in love and war, and Jocelyn likes to put a whole lot of both in everything she writes.