Unfinished Business

It ain’t published until it’s published.

Makes sense, right? Like an out-of-context quote in a Facebook post or a Tweet to reassure your followers that you can handle this author thing.

But, it’s a lesson that I can’t seem to learn. I’ve written plenty of stuff, including drafts and finished products. No one has seen them except for me and a select few—either carefully chosen to gush over them or drop the editor’s equivalent of a mortar on my words. You’d think I would be ready for the next step, to get it out there, to see my efforts bear some freaking fruit. But then again, I’ve always been a poor gardener.

Why can’t I just put myself out there? Sure, my fear of rejection—that’s a good reason. A common reason. But in some ways, I think having the opposite problem is just as venomous. Sometimes a person is sure they’ll be published, that they’re the next JK Rowling, the next Suzanne Collins, or that they’re writing the next phenomenon that’ll get them all of the money. All of it. And they get complacent, secure in the unwavering belief in themselves. And they get lazy.

“Oh, I’ll resubmit this when I have time,” they say, savoring a glass of decadent brandy that they couldn’t afford with their day job. “I know I’ll do it.”

I’m not attacking a strawman here, if you haven’t guessed. This is all personal experience. A problem I have yet to overcome.

I’ve sent a draft of something out. No, I didn’t get the brutal, soul-crushing rejection letter that could turn one astray from further attempts. The comments I received were positive. Very much so. I was told that my story wasn’t quite right for the anthology in question. So, I relaxed.

“It’s good. I know it’s good. Hell, they told me so,” I thought. “When I send this sucker out again, it’ll be aces.”

I took security in the almost. The just shy. If it’s that close, then whenever I resend it, with some adjustments for the market, I’m in there.

It’s been like six months. I haven’t resubmitted. I’ve taken false security in knowing that I was close. That I could have made it there. I’m learning complacency is damning in its own right. Consequently, I’m still a guy with no publications to his credit.

Trying is hard. The reasons for not trying doesn’t really matter. If you’re not trying, you’re dying. Even if you think you’ve got a sure thing, don’t relax. Get on it. Ain’t nobody ever published something chillin’ in a notebook or lounging on a laptop,

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go admire my finished work and daydream about doing an ill-conceived Twitter Q & A.

John McKeown is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi author from Flint, Michigan, with a penchant for procrastination. As such, he is woefully unpublished. When he’s not writing about magic, blue collar space workers and economic collapse, he either rots his brain with video games or destroys his body via competitive martial arts. Follow him on Twitter @Outfoxd21

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