Since April 1st, I've been working hard to get my (soon-to-be-published) short story, "Stunner," in proper shape. I have had some major re-writes and several edits, which have taught me a lot about my own writing strengths- and weaknesses. I have truly enjoyed the process as I take another step closer to the final book reveal (minus a few tears and lots of chocolate). I've also met some amazing people that have really helped me learn and grow (even when facing some major growing pains). So I know that I am fortunate to be part of an amazing team of authors and a wonderful publishing company!
After first submitting “Stunner,” I was excited for the next upcoming writing contest, "Extreme Makeover," a paranormal anthology. I love writing paranormal! I have read ghost/creature stories my entire life, so getting to submit my own story was a dream come true. I even had the perfect story to submit! Then life happened. First of all, the story I wanted to submit, called "Diamond Point," is meant to be a full novel. No matter how I tried to shorten it, I couldn't get it to fit the parameters and still be the story I wanted. It's a complex ghost story, chuck full of actual historical events. With all the research and energy I put into it so far, I couldn't bring myself to cut half of it. So now I was back to square one. I needed a new story.
I have several little blurbs written down of story ideas and I started playing around with a few. I even wrote almost 6,000 words of a story I ultimately abandoned. The one I ended up going with was a tough one and yet the only one I could fit together in my head. But, unfortunately, it was doomed from the beginning. You see, my main character was already dead. Hmm, I'm sure your thinking, "yep, you lost me." But I wanted something edgy and unique. The problem is, I ran out of time to show it.
The busy life of a wife and mother kept me from getting to the computer as much as I needed and wanted to. I also have a few (minor) health issues that keep me down from time to time. Throw in a weekend trip with my sisters and the deadline was upon me. I was only halfway done and no time to complete it. I was devastated! This genre is my niche. I was supposed to rock it and show off my creativity. Instead, what stared me in the face was a sub-par story line and characters that didn't get the chance to take shape.
In my desperation, I took to Facebook and shared my sad news of failure. I was upset that I wouldn't be able to submit. But, because of the wonderful people at Xchyler Publishing, they reached out to me. Two of the editor's encouraged me to submit what I had anyway. I was both grateful and petrified!
On my flight to Salt Lake City, (for the fun-filled weekend with the girls) I feverishly typed away, trying to edit and fix what I had, hoping it wasn't an utter disaster. Once off the plane, I went through the pages for one last look. The time was now or never. Should I press that enter key and face rejection? If I didn't press enter and let the date slip by, I could pretend that I “just forgot.” I went back and forth for over an hour. In the end, I pressed enter. My half-written, lacking story was on its way. I prayed that either the email would get lost among the billions of files on the web or that someone reading it would see through the catastrophe and spot the diamond in the rough.
Today I found the answer. The winners were announced for the upcoming anthology and my name was not listed. I winced (doing a mental, Doh!) but then felt relieved. Rejection is part of being an author. Deep down I knew that the short story I submitted was not my best work. It wasn't the tale I had hoped to enter and thinking of all the work needed to make it “readable,” made me shutter. I was saved from many headaches, several tears, and clearing out the local store of chocolate bars.
What I’m anxious to receive now is the feedback. One great thing about the submission process at Xchyler Publishing is that you get feedback about what was liked and what wasn't; what worked and what didn't To me, that is priceless. It is a tool that will help me learn what I can do to improve. I’m looking forward to the constructive criticism and growing from it. Not all authors get the reasons for rejection, so I look forward to seeing what needs to change.
In the end I don’t regret submitting my story. Everything I do as a writer is a learning process, so the worst that can happen is that I’m told “no,” and that’s okay.
Check out Xchyler Publishing and upcoming writing contests by visiting: www.xchylerpublishing.com. And check out my author page on Facebook: Author Sarah Hunter Hyatt.