- by Vonna Harper
Something I have been doing lately is judging several unpublished writers competitions. My husband just shakes his head and reminds me of how much is on my plate (like my 91 year old mother and his long-time diabetes) but reading those submissions takes me back a million or so years. I hope I’m shutting off my pro writer brain and remembering what it was like to be where they are now.
Every one of those partials, beginnings, love scenes, whatever are the best the writer is capable of at this point. The characters came from the writer’s heart, the plot fashioned with sweat and passion. Its not my job or desire to hold an axe over those submissions and proclaim they’ll never sell and here are the reasons. That serves no purpose. Besides, I could be wrong. Its possible I don’t see what an editor or agent might. My crystal ball shattered along with my rose colored glasses before I sold that first confession short story when my eldest was in diapers.
I could shatter dreams. I have that power. Some of those unpubs would look at my thumb down and weep. Some hearts would be broken. Some might put out a hit on me and I don’t blame them.
What if a hundred years ago someone on high had told me not to quit my day job? If I’d taken that proclamation to heart, I wouldn’t now have more than 50 published works under my belt. Yes, I suffered through rejection letters (I still get them) but those letters didn’t break my spirit (beyond temporarily). The first “You can’t write” letter (actually it was something scribbled at the bottom of what should have been an interoffice memo but wound up in the letter to my agent) didn’t come until I’d sold a half dozen romances to that no longer editor. I moaned, I gnashed my teeth. Then, armed with those romances as reminder, I picked myself up and went back to work.
There, that’s it. If I jot a note to some unpub telling him or her not to quit her day job, she might hang up her computer. If she does, she’ll never LEARN.
So I won’t. I’ll encourage, caution, instruct, and point out the good stuff. What the unpubbed does with my notes and scores is beyond my control but I hope they’ll all LEARN.
And continue on that path just as I am. That’s the thing about writing. There’s no finish line. Thank goodness.