I did it.
Well, I technically did it over a month ago and I’ve been mostly sitting on it because I wasn’t actually sure if it had happened or not.
Anyway. What I finally did was sell a story. Not just a story but THE story – the one I had been working on for nearly four years. The one that I had gotten nine form rejections for. The Triffid story.
When it happened, I was sitting on a balcony in Martha’s Vineyard on next to no sleep with my bags packed waiting for Steve Gould to pull the car around to take Katherine and I to the ferry. I wasn’t sure whether or not I could celebrate. I was flabbergasted above all, sitting there with my phone in my hand. I kept thinking someone would pull the rug out from under me to tell me it had all been a mistake.
I never thought I would sell this story, to be honest. I thought there was something horribly wrong with it that no amount of revisions (there were five or six total revamps of that story from the original iteration) could fix. If things hadn’t gone down the way they did, I was going to try a few more half-hearted attempts to send it out and then I was going to trunk it.
When all you get is form rejections, it’s hard to know whether or not there’s something flawed with the story or if it’s just not a good fit for that market. And when you send out lots of things and still keep getting form rejections, you start thinking that the problem must be the writing.
And sometimes, yes, that’s the case. Especially when you’re still starting out. But the only solution is to write more stuff, finish that stuff and rewrite the stuff you finish. I can’t say how many times I started writing something else to have an epiphany about a story I’d already finished working on. Then send them out. Send them out if they’re ready. Send them out if they’re not.
The VP motto is “Send it out ’til Hell won’t have it.”
It’s true. The only way to sell stories is to write a lot of stories and send them out until there is literally nowhere else to send them. It’s hard to do because the rejection really wears you down.
I got the check in the mail today, which I suppose means I can no longer worry that someone’s going to jump out with a camera yelling, “Gotcha!”
The best part isn’t the catharsis of finally selling this story, or the check, or even the validation that came with it (because I’d be lying if I said that terrified little part of me that wanted to say she was a writer but wasn’t sure if that was okay or not doesn’t feel validated a little bit). It was that I freed up all this headspace to write other things. And I’m fucking energized to actually write them.
Speaking of which, I should be writing right now.
(And yeah, the title of this post has nothing to do with the post itself. It’s just an awesome Okkervil River lyric and I’ve been wanting to use it as a title [also because How to Sell a Triffid sounded way too fucking stupid])