Sunday 8 January 2012

Status As A Writer

Tomorrow is the January ORWA meeting (Ottawa Romance Writer’s Association).  I joined in November because I know I’ll need help if I ever want to be actually published.  I’ve been enjoying the meetings and found everyone to very welcoming and supportive.

However, it can also be a little intimidating.

There’s often an informal dinner after the meeting at a local restaurant.  I went last time and found myself seated with six other women, all of whom seem to have at least three novels published.  And here’s me without even a short story to my official name.

One of them asked me if I had my PRO status.  I had to confess I wasn’t even sure what that was.  If I understood correctly, you become a PRO when you submit your first manuscript.  It can be accepted or rejected but you have to have submitted.

My first instinct was to feel ashamed.  What right did I have to join a professional writing group if I hadn’t even tried to submit my novel yet?  (And to be clear, this is entirely my reaction, not the impression of the group’s reaction.)

But since then I’ve been knocking some sense into myself.  I have my first manuscript finished.  That was a requirement for myself before I would consider joining the group.  And that’s something.  I have my two fan fiction novels but this was the first serious attempt at creating a publishable novel in my own original universe rather than something written to amuse myself and my friends.

That’s a big deal.

I’ve submitted the first three chapters to the local critique group.  Another big step for me and a necessary one on the road to publication.

I’ve done a major rewrite based on their suggestions.  And I resubmitted.

I may not have sent the manuscript to a publisher or agent as yet but I don’t think I should be ashamed of that any more.  I could have sent something I knew wasn’t ready, wasn’t the best it could be.  Then I’d have my first rejection.

But I’m taking the time to polish my work.  To be brave enough to subject it to outside opinions so that I can make it better.  Maybe it will still get rejected but at least I’ll know I’ve done everything I could.  And frankly, there are more novels and ideas clamouring to get written in my brain.  If no one likes this one, I’ll be a little sad but I’ll keep trying.  And so far, people have liked what they’ve seen.

There’s a lot of work ahead of me but I’m going to do it.  And I’m going to do it right.

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