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Monday, June 02, 2008

Do they make Neosporin for this?

I’ve reached a milestone in my writing career (and don’t think that the phrase ‘writing career’ doesn’t make me giggle). I am almost ready to submit my first novel to agents. I have a query letter or three ready to go, and 252 pages of a twice-edited manuscript – 84,658 words that I’m sure will dazzle.

Now what?

I remember the first time I posted a snippet of my writing for critique. I actually felt nauseous. I was a mess. I mean, to open myself up to that kind of criticism…what could I possibly have been thinking? But once those first crits came in, both good and bad, I was able to stop popping antacids like breath mints. It was similar to taking off a band-aid, and it did get easier each time I did it. I hardly ever have to throw up now.

So here I am facing my first real world band-aid. This time I’m going to send my work to a professional in the publishing business. Will it be good enough? Will I stack up rejections as every author does? Is there a market for it? Does it re-define suckiness?

I’ll never know until I hit the ‘send’ button.

Tell us your story, good or bad, about ripping off the band-aid. Sharing your work for the first time. Querying agents. Submitting story changes to editors. It can be any challenge that you faced and conquered, even if the end result wasn’t exactly what you planned.

I hope my band-aid only stings a little. :-)


Gerb said...

Julie, you're baby is going to do fine in the big bad real world. Don't worry!

You know, I still feel that dread when I send in my stuff. Gnawing stomach. A weight settling on my chest. Yeah, it does become easier, but that worry - at least for me - never completely goes away

I have so many ripping off the band-aid stories, it's not funny. I will tell you, though, that closing your eyes and just going for it helps.

When I submitted the ms that became Death by Bikini was one of those moments. I had just finished The Finnish Line and, because it seemed that my editor liked working with me and because I knew I liked working with her, I took a deep breath and asked her if I could send her something else.

It was a big deal to me because Now and Zen and The Finnish Line were both part of a publisher-driven series, and what I was giving her was all my own. I remember the way my stomach twisted and my hands went numb just before I hit the send button.

The end result was what I hoped for - Puffin bought the book - but not exactly what I had planned - instead of one book, they offered a three-book deal. Ripping off the Band-aid has its rewards.

Anonymous said...

I have had the band-aid ripped more than once and it is painful. The first time I sent off for a contest the judge wrote a note saying she should charge me for the cost of Tylenol she had to take to read my work. That was devastating! I cried for weeks and almost stopped writing completely. One day I picked it up and read what all the judges wrote again and decided I could turn it around and prove myself....Now, I'm about a month away from sending my book off to publishers and I am very proud of what I have learned. No more band-aids. I'm going with the glue! :D

Julie O'Connell said...

Wow, Amber...that's a truly harsh thing for a judge to say. It's beyond band-aid - more like drilling without novocaine! You have every reason to be proud of yourself for picking up your work and moving forward. Hooray for you, and congrats on finishing and submitting!
(And thanks for stopping by, too!)

Kay Cassidy said...


Cheers to you for putting your work out there! That's a big step a lot of writers don't ever take, so you deserve a big woohoo for having what it takes to make your dreams a reality. Here's hoping it happens for you with minimal need for neosporin. :-)

My first critique was a professional one of the first chapter where the published author was, I thought, needlessly harsh in her comments. Great points, but lacking the tact I had expected from something I'd paid for. :-) It was hard to dust myself off as a newbie, but it was worth it. Five years and much (MUCH) learning later, I'm doing final tweaks to my GH manuscript so my agent can start marketing it. Haven't reached the final hurdle of a sale like Gerb and Amber, but I'll keep working and keep the faith. That's the best we can do, right?

Julie O'Connell said...

Kay, thanks for the encouragement. I've not yet paid someone for editing or critiques, but I would expect a professional to be, well, professional. You can tell someone what they need to work on without making it personal. I know, I've been on the receiving end of 'it's great, but...' many, many times. :-)
Glad to hear that you and your agent are prepping for a sale - congrats to YOU for making it this far! And thanks so much for popping in!

Nicole Maggi said...

Ah, band-aid moments. Amber's post reminded me of my first (and only!) contest entry, in which a judge questioned the device on which my entire plot rested. Later, I actually met this judge and it turned out she was a bitter writer who hadn't sold a book in a decade. I chose to ignore her advice. :-)
I landed my agent on my first real query, so sometimes ripping off the band-aid can have very positive results, as Linda said!
I think what's great about forums and critique groups is that it gives us a little practice of ripping the band-aid off. Writing is such an insular and solitary profession that I think it's important to put ourselves out there every once in a while.
Great post, Julie! I'm so proud of you for putting Tonic out there!

Ginger Calem said...

Great post Julie. As someone who just ripped off the band-aid, I too am hoping they have Neosporin for this in case I need it. This submission process feels like jumping off the high-dive and hoping you don't do a bellyflop in front of everyone.

I've always said that letting others read your writing is like giving them access to a very personal and private part of yourself. Our stories are a part of us, no matter how we look at it because they come from within us. So sharing them exposes ourselves to others. Very scary but exhilarating at the same time with the hopeful aspect to what might come of it and how it might bring us closer to our goals and dreams.

Amber--I can't believe a contest judge said that to you. Oh my goodness!! I might have been tempted to reply that the cost of her Tylenol paled in comparison to the cost of my psychotherapy to recover from her comment. *vbg*

I guess the more band-aid moments we give ourselves, the closer we are to success!

Julie O'Connell said...

Ginger, maybe there's a 'Bactine For Writers' to take the sting out a little. If it exsists, I'll need to order a barrel of the stuff. I should bathe in it. :-)

Ginger Calem said...

Jules--I'm thinking group discount.


Brendan O'Connell said...

Hooray for getting your stuff out in the world. I get the same type of nervousness whenever I show people my pictures. I saw bactine and thought you meant a bacta-tank. I'm too much of a nerd. Though having a bacta tank is not a bad idea.

Julie O'Connell said...

Brendan, what's a bacta-tank? Your mumsy has no freaking idea.

And your photos are lovely. Do you have to watermark them so people can't just print them off of a website?