Beginner’s Mistakes

Once I finally made peace with the notion of being a writer, I was ready for things to start happening. Didn’t the universe get the memo that I was finally ready to fulfill my destiny? Hello, anyone up there? I guess I’m still waiting. And writing. Lots of writing.

But that’s ok, because it pays to be patient. Or at least it can’t hurt. We’ve all heard the stories. People who query their NaNoWriMo novels on December 1st without revising, people who pester agents or editors because they simply cannot wait for feedback. Or those who query everyone with a promising WIP and get rejected, only to realize two more revisions later they would have nailed it. I don’t want to be the person who blunders out of inexperience or impatience.

But despite my intentions I am not immune to beginners’ mistakes. Case in point: The first (and currently the only) time I submitted my work – and I don’t mean contest entries because we all know there’s no accounting for taste or luck – I was nervous. Of course, I thought I was ready, thought I had done my best to internalize the editorial guidelines and make my work shine. Query letter? Check. Attachment full of brilliance? Check. All that was left was putting together an email and hitting the send button before I lost my nerve. So I sent it off into the world and tried to remind myself why I would do such a crazy thing. Turns out, in my haste to get my work out before I chickened out, I made a typo in the email. A minor one, an understandable one I told myself, but a typo nonetheless.

Of course, I waited for the autoreject for the next two weeks. I had heard too many stories about grammar nazis and finicky editors to expect my mistake to go by unnoticed. But when I did get the inevitable rejection months later, it wasn’t for that error, or at least not that error alone. Which made me relieved. Or not, because the rejection still stung, and my work obviously wasn’t at the point I thought it was. Had I waited a day or so before sending out my submission, nine times out of ten I would have caught my error and felt confident in the knowledge I had done all I could. Now, I still can’t completely dispel niggling doubts and whispered what-ifs.

Yet, despite my disappointment, I have all the more reason to take care with my next submission and to be watchful for silly mistakes. I will take my time and not let my nerves overwhelm my judgment. I must remember to always strive for perfection in an imperfect world.
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