I’m not a very experienced submitter. I have only submitted writing to a handful of competitions–poetry and oratorical contests in middle school (where I won every gold medal/blue ribbon known to man), Prize Papers in high school (where a story about one of the biggest rejections of my life was won, ironically), the literary awards competition in college (where I ate the dust of an MFA candidate), and two literary magazines competitions (neither of which I won. One was for Crazy Horse and the other was for Boulevard). With so little experience with submitting work, and never giving myself too much time to think about what I am submitting when I submit, I often have a writer’s form of buyer’s remorse about my submissions.
I don’t know if this happens to other writers, but once I submit something to a teacher, a workshop group, an honest friend, or a competition, I am plagued with writer’s remorse. The moment the piece leaves my hands, I am overcome with doubts about the choices I made and the quality of the material. This time is no different. Even before I pressed the submit button, I wanted to change the opening of Pleasure’s Payne. I knew where I wanted the manuscript to start, and that I should blend the things before the beginning into the story, but I wasn’t confident enough in that option to pursue with only 4 hours left until the deadline…while at work, where I’m supposed to be working on what I’m paid to do. In the end, I ended up closing my eyes and pressing submit.
I know that the opening is still strong as is, but I can’t help but feel like it could have been better. It certainly didn’t help that the very thing I was going to do was tweeted as a warning by one of the editors reading the submissions. She was saying that if you don’t get selected for the top 50, perhaps it’s because your manuscript started in the wrong place. My first reaction was “Oh, my God! She’s reading my submission! She’s talking about me! I’m dead in the water already. How could I let this happen? But they’re judging on the content and voice and the quality of writing as well, right? I know the writing is good. Can’t they forgive a little misstep like giving a teeny bit too much background at the beginning?!” Yes, friends, I freaked out at an ambiguous twitter posting.
I’m so tempted to change the beginning now and continue on with it all “chopped and screwed,” but if I do manage to make it to the next round by some miracle, is that even allowed? I don’t know. Besides, I’m supposed to be finishing the book, but now I’m paralyzed with fear. I wrote another 3,000+ words after I entered it Thursday, but I wrote zero words yesterday. I know where the book is going, what needs to happen, what characters will be introduced, how they will get over their issues and find love with each other, but my pudgy little fingers are a little dejected right now. So help me snap out of it.
Have you ever had writer’s remorse? What happened? What advice can you give to a novice submitter?
- So You Think You Can Write?…I Did! (copywrite1985.wordpress.com)
- How to overcome and destroy writers block (wiseslacker.com)
- Rejection is Good for the Soul (prismmagazine.ca)
- Before You’re a Writer (limebirdwriters.co.uk)
- Levels of “No,” or Why I Reject Manuscripts (nepheletempest.wordpress.com)
- Top Literary Journal Editor Shares Submission Advice (mediabistro.com)