Your friends and family read it and tell you how good it is. Someone tells you about RWA and you join. You get word of the Golden Heart and you send your masterpiece in. As you anxiously wait for your perfect scores, you join a few writing loops and discover critique groups. You’re warned about having a thick skin, but you don’t need one. Your work is perfect. You send in chapter one, and wait for the shining admiration of the group.
The first one comes in. They hate it. They tell you to throw the whole thing in the garbage and start over. But hey, what do they know? They don’t know great work when they see it. The second critique comes in and it’s worse than the first. Then the third, and the fourth. You start seeing phrases you’ve never heard of. Showing vs. telling, word repetition, head-hopping. You go back to your writer’s loop and ask about these mysterious phrases, and that’s when you get the wind knocked out of your sails.
Rules. Writing has rules. You go back to your masterpiece and realize you broke every one of them on page one.
But you still want to write. You attend a few workshops. You learn about the rules, learn that you can even break some of them. You want to slap yourself when you re-read your first manuscript. Did you really write about your hero’s throbbing manhood?
You realize that writing even a mediocre novel isn’t easy, and that writing is work. But you still want to do it. You develop the thick skin. You know there’s always room for improvement. You even learn to give a few critiques yourself.
Months go by and you’ve grown as a writer, but you know you still have a way to go. You know there are no guarantees. You will get rejections and not every chapter will be great. Humility is your middle name. You are now a writer. Unpubbed, but still a writer. And you will never forget your journey. Especially since your Golden Heart scores just arrived in the mail.