If You Build It... They Won't Look Under the Bed

This past week, I've written some reminders (mainly to myself) that jumping the gun with a submission can be a bad thing, then sending out your "baby" before it's polished can be fatal. But today, let's talk about the opposite problem, the fear-based reluctance to send your project out the door.

Today I finished one last read-through and then sent my much-sweated-over new proposal off to meet its fate. Before doing so, I have to admit, I felt a moment's trepidation, the fear that it may fall short, and the instinctive desire to wrap this "child" in cotton and stuff it somewhere nice and safe.

Unfortunately, that doesn't work any better with manuscripts than it does for our real children. Besides that, manuscripts aren't kids, and it's dangerous for us to think about them that way. Manuscripts are products, and we'd do well to remember that as we edit in response to suggestion, cope with criticism, or face flat-out rejection.

You can't sell a product you keep tucked beneath your bed. As far as I can think of, the only writer that worked out well for was Emily Dickinson, and she had to go and die before anybody noticed and sent those suckers out.

Assuming you don't want to be a posthumous success (or risk relatives like mine, who, having no real interest in reading, would shove your life's work into Hefty bags without bothering to read it) you're going to have to get submissions out the door. Scary, sure. They absolutely can end up rejected, but you can be positive they never will be published if you tinker with them 'til the world's end or hold back "just in case" you learn some new technique that might help you improve your craft.

So learn to find the sweet spot, that middle place that enables you to be productive (in this lifetime) without having you go off half-cocked and send out junk. And if you are one of the procrastinators among us, answer this question honestly. Are you holding off because of perfectionism, or are you enabling fear?

Whether it's fear of failure or fear of success (and yes, this happens!) it's equally crippling, and you're going to have to find some way to defeat it if you'll even stand a chance.


Suzan Harden said…
Yep, this is so me more times than I care to admit. Luckily, I have a DH that says "Send out the ****ing query or you don't get any ice cream!"
No ice cream! I'd be sending out queries every day!

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