The Writing Life

Just a quick update on Tuesday’s post. By some miracle, I made it through all those emails, even though they kept coming in as I went through the ones already sitting in my inbox. There’s nothing like an empty inbox to brighten your day.

Now for today’s topic. If your writing life is anything like mine, it’s crazy. Between work and family, I find myself writing and revising late at night and on weekends. Sometimes, writing feels like a full-time job all by itself. But I belong to a couple of great online writers groups, and the members face some of the same struggles I do. We all have our own personal struggles to overcome to get the writing done and prepped for submission.

But once that manuscript is ready to go, where do you send it? Is it even really ready to go? These are questions that plague a lot of writers. We spend every free moment working on our masterpiece only to finish it and realize we don’t know where to submit it. Even if you’ve carefully researched markets and have a list, how do you decide where to send the manuscript first?

My method is far from fool-proof, but it works for me. When I make my list, I put my dream agents/publishers at the top. Once I’ve submitted to them, if I receive rejections, I go on to the next name on the list. All of the markets on the list are reputable and good (I make sure of that while putting the list together) but there are always at least a couple of agents or publishers I’d love to work with more than the others. The best comparison I can think of is when a high school kid is looking for a college. He researches various colleges and universities, which are very good institutions but not his first pick. He knows which school he wants to attend, but various circumstances may prevent him from going there. If that’s the case, he has the rest of his list to apply to. The point is to avoid placing all of your hopes for your manuscript in one place because what you think is the perfect fit might not be quite right.

Of course, I’ve noticed something else as I write with a goal of publication in mind. There are a lot of opportunities for writers out there. Just in the last week, I’ve heard about half a dozen or so. Here’s my problem. Not all of them are right for me, but of the ones that are usually would all work for one particular manuscript. If all of the opportunities look good and they all have similar deadlines, how do you choose which one to submit that manuscript to? I’m still trying to figure that one out. I think I’ve got a plan that will work for me, but with my luck another excellent opportunity will come along and I’ll have to rethink that plan again.

These things are all part of a writer’s life, at least one who’s aiming for publication. Those who write for the fun of it and never plan to submit anywhere have it easy. I write for the pure enjoyment of it and because I want to entertain others with my writing. This means looking for a publisher and marketing and all sorts of things that will limit my writing time further, but I think it’s worth it.

What do you think? Is writing for publication worth the occasional headache and time-crunch? Or do you write for yourself and not worry about another person ever seeing your manuscript?

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