Back in October I started writing an essay to submit to [REDACTED]. I worked on it off and on for months, sometimes spending a whole day rewriting and editing, moving stuff around. It has a pretty firm word count limitation which I like because it makes it easier to kill off a sentence I might like but ultimately doesn’t work. I left it for weeks and then came back to it and was amazed at what I still liked and what I hated and couldn’t believe I’d written.
Finally, after a particular brutal edition session I had with myself, I felt like it was in a good place to send off. And I almost did until I realized no one but me had ever read it. Which seemed ill advised. I sent a note to a couple of friends, one who I am quite close with and has worked with me in the past and gets me, and another who I don’t know as well but am confident has the chops to give me an honest and fair assessment.
It felt like a big weight had been lifted, I’d shared it with two whole people! They both agreed to give it a read and I felt like I was taking a step in the right direction. A few days went by, then weeks. I realized I would need to prod them a bit to give me some feedback but that felt weird and awkward. What if they’d read it and hated it but didn’t know how to tell me? For a few days I convinced myself these two people were sparing my feelings and if I reminded them about my request I would get news I was not prepared to hear. But I also needed to send in this submission, if only to stop myself from wondering what it would feel like to get a rejection letter, and just experience getting a rejection letter.
The friend that knows me well was apologetic and immediately read it, told me she liked it, gave me critical feedback and suggestions and a wave of relief washed over me. I went for a walk and then did some more editing. I left it overnight and then read it again, out loud, stopping midway through because I was crying too hard to speak. It was time to send it. I read over the submission guidelines for what felt like the thirtieth time and then followed the instructions and hit send. My stomach tumbled. I felt like throwing up might relieve some of my anxiety but took a couple of deep breaths instead.
I have no confidence this essay will be accepted for publication. I think the competition is too fierce, but I wanted to push myself to submit to a publication well out of reach because I thought it would push me to write as well as I possibly could. I am confident I did the best I could and now I need to move on and write something else and submit it. And another thing. And another.
I wrote about 2000 words today in total and I deleted them all. I am spinning my wheels because I feel a little out of my depth. Submitting something, finally, was a big step forward. Now I need to keep shuffling ahead. This post is super boring, but I am going to leave it because I want to come back to this later and remember what today felt like. I am trying to write about something from a perspective I haven’t written before and it is hard and awkward and uncomfortable, but I am going to keep trying.