Are You a Good Writer?

1967.

Warm June night. City street. Twenty or more hotrods waiting to drag. I’m in first group of four, lined up. Heart pounding in my ears. Sweat trickling down my neck.

I’m the only woman driver. The car is a GTO, my boyfriend’s “Golden Goat.” He’s in knots wondering why in the hell he let me drive in the first place.

I grew up on tractors, dirt roads, and rough conditions. I know how to drive.

I jam the “goat” into first, rev, and wait for the flag to drop. I’m focused on the road. Flag drops. I max out in first, skip second to third gear and in seconds flat I finish. First.

The boyfriend, whose name I don’t recall, loses the next run-off competition.

Writing begins this way. You are focused on an idea, the action, and your characters while visioning the “finish.” The race is delayed by blind curves, arbitrary rules, and confusing advice. You’re ejected from the race. You’ve no idea why. You’ve followed the rules or so you thought. You’ve had the manuscript edited (more than once). Some incredibly talented artist created a professional cover. That’s not nearly enough.

What professional credentials do you have? (Can you create publishing credentials?) Do you have a polished synopsis? Is your letter to an agent or publishing house pristine? Succinct? Polite? You may submit, in some cases, the first ten or twenty pages of your manuscript. Do those pages create immediate interest? You believe you’ve done all of those things and more.

You will receive a reply sooner or later. All rejections are virtually the same: The agent is VERY busy, and VERY select about what they choose for they receive x-y-z submissions per week. Thank you for your submission, but NO and good luck with one or another carbon-copy agents out there.

Stop twisting yourself in knots, wondering your worth. Remember some writing advice is pure bunk. If it is common sense, it’s worth reading. My advice is to have faith in your story, your characters. Live with them; accept their faults as well as their strengths. Most of all, keep working. If you love writing, despite the roadblocks, you may be on to something.

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