For the next 10 days, I’m working on a Secret Writing Project. An opportunity to submit to a Very Big Publisher came up. It is right in my sweet spot, both in terms of length and subgenre. And the day I found out about the call for submissions, I was struck by a story idea which fit perfectly. I’m not going into details because I need to preserve my energy and excitement to power through drafting, revising and polishing a not-insubstantial word count in a short period of time.
I am aware the odds of failure are astronomical.
I just don’t care. I’d rather go big and get rejected. I’m less worried about the short time frame. I tend to produce my best work when working fast under a strict deadline. Worst case scenario, I end the month with a completed novella.
In the four years since I started writing fiction seriously again, I have experimented a lot. I’ve done indie publishing and small press. I’ve subbed to (and been accepted by ) SFWA pro markets for short fiction. This will be my first time subbing a long form piece to a major publisher.
It would be terrifying, if I had any fear of failure left.
Fortunately, I really don’t. It’s not that I don’t understand it. Rejection is the opposite of fun. Failure sucks. These are inarguably true statements. I don’t blame any of my friends who aren’t subbing right now. It’s just that I’m no longer willing to pay the cost of trying to avoid failure and rejection.
We consider the cost of failure often. I think we rarely consider the cost of not trying in the first place. I am just too deeply familiar with that cost. While taking a break from subs is not giving up, I know myself well enough to understand how easily “taking a break” can become “sweet mercy, it’s been twenty years since I wrote a story.”
I lost two decades to “playing things safe” and “not getting my hopes up.” Mostly what that got me was a life that was mind-numbingly boring, except for the times when other people did terrible things to me. Um, no thanks y’all. I’m done with all that.
I’ll be spending the next twenty years (assuming I get them, God willing) rocking punk hair, rolling around on adult Heely sneakers, and writing, subbing and pubbing every crazy story I can sit still long enough to draft and edit.
Resignation is a cage you build for yourself.
It doesn’t matter that the door isn’t locked – maybe isn’t even closed. You define the limits of your existence, and deny the stirrings of your wild, free-range heart at your peril, friends.