I’ve always been a writer. I have no choice but to put words to paper (or computer screen). It has only been the past nine or ten years that I seriously studied the craft of writing with a desire to improve each sentence and paragraph I write.
I’ve won awards and had articles and poems published in magazines, anthologies, and online. And yet I still have doubts.
Recently I wrote a piece for a magazine, specifically tailoring the article to the theme of their next issue. I edited the article until it was the best I could make it. Then I almost didn’t send it because the thought crossed my mind, “They are not going to like it. They’ll never put it in the magazine.”
I’d had two articles published in this magazine before, so the thought didn’t make any sense. And even if they did decide not to publish this one, it wouldn’t be because I’m a bad writer. It would be because it didn’t fit with the rest of the issue. Because I know this to be true, I hit send on the email.
I got a response within 24 hours that the editor in chief loved it. She said she would get back to me with edits in a week or so. She did a great job editing the first two articles they had published, so I replied that I looked forward to her improving my article.
Then yesterday I received an email with the subject line “Edits for your review.” The contents of the email provided the reminder I needed that I can write. She wrote:
This email is titled “Edits for your review” but in all honesty there is barely any editing for you to review at all! The work you have done to perfect your writing craft shines in every sentence. You tell this story so well. The cadence of the narrative is perfect. I made two edits. . . .
What if I had listened to the naysaying voice in my head? My article wouldn’t be published and I wouldn’t have received this awesome encouragement at a time when I needed it most.
A speaker at a writers conference once said, “Submit your writing. Don’t say ‘no’ to your own material. Let the professionals do that.” She got a huge laugh and applause for that comment. But behind the humor is an important truth. A writer will never be published if they don’t risk rejection.
But it is equally true that a writer who refuses to hone their craft, to take constructive criticism and apply it, will never be published, except on their own blog or in a self-published book.
It’s a long, hard road being a writer. Many give up just on the verge of success. If you’re still trudging along wondering if you’ll ever be published, keep going. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Take note of feedback and apply it where you can. It’s well worth the effort.