Robin’s Randoms: Mistakes I Learned From

It’s easier to think of what I did right before I was published than what I did wrong.  I’m not sure why that is; maybe I prefer the glass half-full.  It is a good review, though, to remember the near misses and flat out mistakes so that I don’t go there again.

1) Impatience:  Once I knew I wanted to be a published writer, I was focused.
Determination was my middle name.  Finding a balance between that eagerness and the rush to get into the market was hard for me.  I made the mistake of mailing a manuscript before it was the best it could be.  And I didn’t just mail it once; I mailed it about 30 times.  That story will be revised someday.  Maybe.

2) Talking:  I talked about my story too much.
I should clarify.  I talked about my story to non-writers too much.  Being excited about my new venture, I would share my ideas, and bubble over excitedly about the writing experience only to be shot down by an Eeyore-type who declared that those books don’t sell, it’s hard to get published these days, or don’t get your hopes up.   I’ve learned to offer a snippet and hold the rest close for me and only me.  I’ve also learned to see it from the other side.  It does look a little crazy from the other side, but don’t look at it from their side—that would be another mistake.

3) Peer pressure:  Early on I was willing to do anything to be a better writer.
I still want to be a better writer, but I’m not willing to be trampled in the process.  I let someone be rough with her critiques and I didn’t speak up.  I knew her harsh words were unnecessary, but I knew they had originated from her own pain, so I let them go.  In retrospect, I see that I wasted her time and my own by letting it go on too long.

4) Perspective:  I only gave up on myself a few times in the ten years it took me to get published.
Each time I was exhausted and had lost perspective.  I was a weeping, inconsolable mess who declared that all the doubters were right—I was wasting my time.  It’s good to have a singular focus, but it’s also important to turn around and look at how far you’ve come on the journey.

5) Stopping:  The biggest mistake I made is not writing. What I mean is that there should always be something going on in the background.  When I was working on Buried, I wasn’t working on anything else.  I had put away my manuscript that had been rejected 30 times and was so grateful for Buried being picked up that that’s all I worked on.  I don’t do that anymore.

None of those 5 things are really mistakes, though.  I truly wanted to learn to be a better writer, and I wanted to be a published writer, so I did what it took, and when I screwed up I tried not to do it again.  But I didn’t let it stop me.

~R.M.M.

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