Love Lane Books presents Valentine Delights, a collection of short stories celebrating love.
I was quite excited when I first saw the call for submissions for the anthology from Love Lane Books, and was even more excited when I had an idea for a story pop straight into my head. Sometimes, the old muse is a little reluctant to put out on demand, so I was glad to have an idea to work on from the get-go.
The whole experience has been pretty much what I expected – having spent time reading other people's publishing tales, I had a vague idea of what had to happen – but I think I'll be taking away three important lessons for the future.
1. Writing the story is the easy part. I should enjoy that more.
I wrote a thing. I fell in love with the characters. I was happy.
Then I rewrote it – twice, worked it over it probably three or four times, farmed it out for beta reading, then editing, made it as spick and span as I possibly could – all the while fretting over every word. My usual process.
Then, I sat looking at my carefully constructed submission email for about two hours, before my finger finally twitched of its own accord, and pressed send by accident. It has since become clear, however, that everything up to that point was all fun.
The real work comes afterwards. Edits, proofing, promotion, talking to people about it. Everything this side of the mirror feels like work – like a job. I don't dislike it – I actually find myself enjoying it – but it doesn't feel as free and easy as writing does. So, I think in future, I'm going to try to fret a little less about the writing bit, and spend more time enjoying “making stuff up and writing it down”.
2. Patience isn't just a virtue, it's a necessity.
Then, there was waiting.
Waiting to see if my effort would be included.
Waiting to see if I was going to have someone laugh in my face, or pat me on the head and send me on my way.
Waiting to see whether anyone would ever love the characters like I do.
Waiting to see if I was “good enough”.
I think part of this is having to acknowledge that no-one is going to ever be more invested in the story than the person who wrote it. Right now, the six thousand words I wrote a couple of months ago, is the most important thing in my life. Which is nuts. And so, yes, patience is important. Because people have to feed their kids, and walk their dogs, and do their job, and they undoubtedly have a bunch of words that are the most important things in their lives, too.
And really, I didn't have to wait that long. Thinking about waiting two years for a novel to come out gives me the heebie-jeebies. And, in a quite unfair turn of events, I discovered that refreshing your email every two minutes for several weeks doesn't make the replies come any quicker either. It's something I'm going to have to learn to live with.
3. Turns out, there's no such thing as too much editing.
I think in the past, I've stated that I hate editing. Or rather that I haaaaate editing, because it brings out a strain of teenage petulance that I don't recall having ever displayed until I started having to edit stuff.
Except, I don't really hate editing. I just find it humiliating and dispiriting. Seeing all those highlighted words and damnable squiggly lines, makes me feel embarrassed that didn't get it right the first time. And even worse, that I have let someone else see my abject failure.
I had a conversation with RJ, which went along the lines of her saying that editing is wonderful as you learn something new about your writing with every pass, and me replying that I wanted to smash my head through my computer monitor.
I think this is going to be the lesson that'll be hardest to learn. Everyone needs editing, I know this. Learning to love and respect the process without becoming a raging monster might take me a little bit longer though.
On reflection, the whole journey – from first conceiving the story, getting my acceptance, seeing the cover art, doing my last round of edits, to writing this blog post – I have loved every minute of it. And I want to thank everyone at Love Lane Books for providing such a supportive and friendly place to have that experience. I've been a bundle of nerves, and beside myself with glee (yes glee, dammit) at times, but all the while, I've found the last few months fascinating and exciting.
I really cannot wait to do it all again!
All About Alex
Wannabe novelist with an even more implausible job in real-life, Alex finally got around to writing down the stories she had spent most of her life crafting in her head, under the shadow of a significant birthday.
With only a one-eyed dog and a horrifyingly muddled music collection to help her along, her stories focus on finding love and keeping it. And if her characters have to go through Hell to get there…she’s okay with that.
Alex lives, works, and watches too much TV in Brighton, UK.