When I first began writing, I had no formal training, just a story to tell and the sense that it needed to be told. God encouraged me through the six months it took to write my first novel, and when I finished the rough draft, I naively thought the hard part was behind me. Instead, I faced learning to write through the School of Hard Knocks.
After joining some on-line writing groups, I soon found myself in a critique group which included a published author. I quaked in my boots to put “my baby” in front of others, but I had prayed about the next step, and this was the door that opened. Then I received my first set of critiques.
How did I take them? The emotions overwhelmed me, and I ended up crying on my husband’s shoulder. But I couldn’t ignore the call of the story. Soon I looked at the critiques again. With the shock and emotions passed, I could see that the advice I’d received made sense. Determination set in. I’d already invested so much time and energy into this project, I couldn’t let it go to waste.
So began a cycle of revising a couple of chapters based on the feedback from my critique partners, submitting the chapters, absorbing the shock of seeing my writing marked up, then determining that I was going to conquer the set of lessons each critique brought. Through each round, my skin thickened. The “barbs” from the critiques didn’t scratch any more.
Read, process information, learn, fix, revise, submit. Over the next five or six months, my perseverance began to see results. The feedback drifted from the basics to content, from a sea of red marks to the occasional comment. And, wonder of wonders, by the time I submitted the last several chapters, my critique partners actually looked forward to receiving my submissions and enjoyed reading the story.
I’ll be the first to admit that writing is tough, but I share my story to encourage you, to let you know that it’s worth the effort. It is possible to make it. After another three and a half years of rejections and two more major revisions, I had an agent and a publisher, and I finally held a copy of “my baby” in my hands. So whether you’re working on your first story or your fortieth, stick with it. Keep writing, keep learning, and persevere. Those are the keys, and if you hold onto them, you’ll be 90% of the way to publication.