The artists’ bread and butter, right?
That and alcoholism, depression, and the inevitable night-terrors…
Well, let me just tell you that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Ya, okay. Fine. It sounds shitty when I put it like that. But I’m not the only weirdo out there who read William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, and Hunter S. Thompson and felt inspired instead of horrified. Right? Please tell me there are others other there!
Never mind then.
Regardless of one’s aspirations, for those of us who are new to the writing profession (or new to trying to be professional about it), there is something wholly soul-crushing about these first steps into realm of writerdom. The great cliched emotional roller-coaster of first novels, query letters, submissions and rejections is something impossible to understand without having been there yourself. Really. I thought I knew, until I submitted my first query letter, what that fear would be like. I really did.
But the truth is, until you do it, you don’t know. That looming cloud of impending doom that settles over you once your story–your baby–is out there, a veritable child in the woods… It is so unimaginable that there’s really no point in trying to describe it. You either know or you don’t. And now I know.
I haven’t even gotten my first rejection letter yet.
Right now, I almost feel like rejection would be a welcome, concrete island in this void of “unknown”. Almost. Except really, rejection will crush me. I know it will. I try to pretend that it won’t, but it will.
I have had my manuscript out to my beta-readers, those poor unsuspecting family members and friends who suddenly found themselves in the unhappy position of having to bullshit me for the sake of my fragile “artist” ego. They all came through for me. I have been able to sustain my self-delusion just a little bit longer.
Still. I vacillate, daily, between the two inevitable extremes: “This is going to be the next big SF bestseller, bitches, move the fuck over!” and “How did this POS ever escape my brain and manifest itself on the electronic page before me?!?”
You know what I mean. Some of you.
The point is, the waiting is the worst. Even if the next couple of months have nothing for me but rejection after rejection, at least then I’ll have something to go on. I can decide that the problem is my query letter, or those first five pages, or something else… anything! Anything except my baby.
In the meantime, I’m distracting myself with another attempt at writing some short fiction. I have just submitted my folk-inspired ghost story “Dreaming in Red” to Strange Horizons. And I’m working on another for submission… somewhere else.
Wish me luck, and I’ll keep you posted. Well, I’ll keep you posted whether you wish me luck or not. The onus is on you to check in on me. Drop me a word of encouragement in the comments below. Please! I’d love to hear from anyone who has gone through this before, regardless of the outcome. Also, those who just want to cheer me on. I could use it. Really, I could.