Back on the Horse
“The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.” ~ Vince Lombardi
Almost a month ago, I included this quote in the post that announced the termination of my work with my publisher.
I never thought I’d have to announce that. As a matter of fact, I thought I would be pitching them series after series of work. I thought I’d found a writing home.
There were differences, creative and otherwise, and after a while, I said the words that I knew would allow me to walk away. This isn’t a post about what went wrong. It’s about how to keep going when your dream was almost accomplished, and then slipped through your fingers.
My first thought, when I accepted reality, was ‘why does it always have to be another battle?’. I’ve battled a lot in my life. Battling with the mental illnesses of myself and others. Battling with abuse. Battling with people who refuse to believe they’ve done anything wrong. Battling with people who refuse to accept my truth as a version of their reality. Battling to protect my son. Battling through physical illnesses. Battling, battling, battling.
Nobody said it would be easy, did they?
My second thought was an effort to stop the endless parade of self-pity. My second thought was, ‘what now?’
What now, indeed.
I turned to my manuscript and started reading. For the most part, after an unending amount of rewrites, I liked what I had in front of me. There were some things I would change. Some things I wished to return to their previous state. But my manuscript was better for the experience, so I took a deep breath and tried to look at the bright side. Maybe I could make headway now, where it was once impossible.
The truth is, I love my characters. I need to tell their story, and I want to live in their world. I’m connected to this. They feel like old friends. So, maybe I was too attached? Maybe I couldn’t see my work clearly?
I sent a few chapters off to some writing contacts who could help me adequately judge where the story was going, to make sure I wasn’t seeing my own work through rose-colored glasses. I wasn’t. They were enjoying it, asking me for more chapters. I felt better.
When you’ve looked at the story as many times as I have looked at this one, when you’ve been given as many opinions about it as I have, you start to question your sanity. You think you’ve nailed something time and time again, but you’re then told that you haven’t, and eventually, you lose the ability to tell the difference between what is well written and what is a mess.
I’m learning to trust myself again. Learning to look at my work and go with my gut. But I can’t just stop. It’s not who am I. Because all of that battling I mentioned earlier? I complained about all of it. But I battled. And I won. I’m still here. The universe has been trying to buck me for awhile but it has failed. And as long as I’m here, I’m going to keep doing what I love.
I’m going to keep writing.
So, I’m reading through the book again, just to make sure it’s the vision I want to portray. And then I’ve got someone I trust who is going to edit it. And then I will throw my book back out into the pool and try, Try, TRY to get another set of eyes that loves it like I do, that shares my vision. Because, that’s where I struck out before.
I don’t expect much. I’m fully accepting of the idea that I may end up choosing to self-publish it, in order to keep my vision alive. Or maybe my book will wind up in a better place than I ever imagined.
One thing is for sure. I have never given up on anything, and I won’t give up on this.
Justine Manzano is a multi-genre writer living in Bronx, NY with her husband, son, and a cacophony of cats. She maintains a semi-monthly blog at JustineManzano.com and a twitter account@justine_manzano, where she discusses her adventures in juggling motherhood, writing, and the very serious businesses of fangirling and multiple forms of geekery. Her first novel, a YA Fantasy titled The Order of the Key, is currently searching for a caring home.