Good old Charles Dickens…
I don’t write like him. I’m not literary. I’m not trying to be. I don’t write prose. I’m a simple writer. I know that. I like how I write. I like what I write. But not everyone will. Which brings me to my worst day as a writer.
My Worst day and my Best day are the same: The day I received the first critique on the first manuscript I ever let someone read.
I’d worked on this particular novel for three years. I wrote. I re-wrote. I joined RWA. And Carolina Romance Writers, my local RWA chapter. I read books on craft. I attended workshops. I followed favorite authors and industry professionals on Twitter. I entered contests. I re-wrote based on contest feedback. I sent it to friends to beta for me. I edited again. And again. I polished. If any manuscript was ready for submission it was that one!
But I needed an actual Critique. Not just a friend who would read it. So I responded to another author’s call for a critique person on Twitter.
We exchanged e-mail addresses. We exchanged manuscripts. We did not discuss what genre or style the other wrote. We did not discuss what kind of feedback we were looking for in a critique or how we liked it delivered. We did not discuss what genres the other liked to read or did not like to read (or had absolute disdain for). Nothing. Nothing at all.
I received an e-mail with the opening line: “This is the worst thing I’ve ever read. You should scrap it and start over.”
WORST DAY EVER.
But it was also the BEST DAY EVER.
I cried and threw fits and quit writing, but deep down, I knew she was right. And it allowed me to move forward.
It didn’t matter that she loathed and looked down upon the romance genre. It was a horrible book. And I knew it…because even after all my editing and rewriting there was still something wrong. Something I couldn’t fix. Something I didn’t know HOW to fix. And instead of re-writing, I tried to make it fit. It didn’t. It wouldn’t. Ever.
I re-wrote the entire book (using a slight twist on my original premise) in six months. It went from TV crime-drama-wannabe/YA Romantic Suspense to New Adult Contemporary Sports Fiction. Once I scrapped the original book I worked on for THREE YEARS–the words flowed. The storyline flowed. Everything fit. Everything worked.
I re-wrote that book in SIX MONTHS. Using all of the craft and editing techniques I re-learned in three years.
I pitched that book for the first time in May 2014. The publisher wanted it, but it wasn’t the right fit for me. I pitched for the second time in October 2014. Accepted an offer in December 2014, and signed a contract in February 2015.
That book came out on September 1st, 2015.
And it all stemmed from my WORST DAY as a writer.
Keep your head up. And look for the OPPORTUNITY in every failure. 🙂
Sophia Henry writes Heartfelt Flirty Fiction featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. DELAYED PENALTY and POWER PLAY, the first two books in the Pilots Hockey series from Random House Flirt, are available now at all major e-book retailers.