Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Splatting Your Writing Against the Wall - Guest Post by Jordan McCollum

I am scared. I have my WIP almost ready to submit, and I think it's confession time. This will be my first submission. Of anything. Ever. (Eighth grade essay contests don't count.)

I've read a lot about the submission and publication process, and I have spent the better part of the last year editing and polishing this book. I'm trying to keep perspective, to remember that virtually everyone gets rejected and rejection isn't the end of the world.

But I'm still scared. Nerves gnaw at my stomach at the mere thought of hitting that Send button. Along with the normal apprehension, I have that first-time fear that somehow I'll ruin everything. I'm scared that I'll do something to sabotage my submission, that some inadvertent faux pas will land my career in the circular file before I even start.

I was pondering this last week, when suddenly I remembered my middle school band director. He used to tell us, "I don't care if you hit a wrong note. We all do. But if you're going to do it, you'd better blast that wrong note—splat it against the wall! Because you can't play the right notes if you're not trying. You miss all the notes you don't play." And then I'd take a deep breath and play (and mostly play the right notes, happily).

My band director had it right. We all make mistakes, and we'll never get it right if we don't try. We can learn and practice and work and polish, but when it comes down to it, if we don't show up for the audition—if we never even submit our work for publication—none of that hard work will matter.

So do practice—do wait until you've worked as hard as you can to get it right. But don't let the fear of failure keep you from ever auditioning. Take a deep breath—and come hold my hand while I click Send!

What do you think? How do you find courage as you take chances in your writing—either craft or career? Does it get easier to submit once you've been rejected, or published?

In addition to being an aspiring fiction author, Jordan McCollum works in Internet marketing. She is the editor of an Internet marketing news blog, Marketing Pilgrim, as well as the author of a blog on finding fulfillment in motherhood, MamaBlogga. She blogs about writing technique at If ever she says anything about starting another blog, please shoot her!

Photo credits: click by Jordan McCollum; flute & music by Nik Frey


At 8/05/2009 11:12 AM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

SUCH a great way of putting it, Jordan! Splat it against the wall. If you don't, nothing will ever stick.

Good luck with your submission! I'll keep my fingers crossed for ya.

At 8/05/2009 11:15 AM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

Thanks on both counts, Annette!

At 8/05/2009 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can we go to read the first chapter?

At 8/05/2009 12:06 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

. . . Of my book, Anon? I have an excerpt from the first chapter on my website under Projects.

(Man, even saying that makes me nervous!)

At 8/05/2009 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which website? Do you have a link you could post?

At 8/05/2009 1:39 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said... (linked in my bio and the name on my comments ;) ).

Here's the direct link:

At 8/05/2009 3:21 PM, Blogger Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I don't know if it's so much courage as a 'die or die trying' feel! Do we have any choice??? is that WIP we poured our sweat and blood into never even going to have the opportunity to live??? what kind of a mother would we be if we didn't throw that WIP to the wind?

Never give up! I actually know someone who was accepted on her first try (and no, it wasn't me).

At 8/05/2009 3:52 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

Sometimes it just feels like I'd rather let my dream die on its own than have someone kill my dream for me, you know? Like you said, I've poured so much of my heart into this manuscript that I don't want to break my heart with rejection. I can blame my kids if they end up making poor choices (I'd probably still blame myself, but blaming them is always an option ;) ), but I'm the only one accountable if my manuscript fails.

It's always nice to hear "overnight success" stories. But, hey, it's nice to hear any success stories (like yours, Tamara).

At 8/05/2009 4:13 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

Wonderful post. Now I just have to screw my courage to the sticking place.

At 8/05/2009 4:25 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

@L.T.—Exactly! Thank you :D .

At 8/05/2009 4:41 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

What a great blog, Jordan, and so true! Good luck with your submission, I'll be crossing my fingers for you.

At 8/05/2009 4:42 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

Thanks, Julie!

I keep waiting to hear somebody speak up and say that it gets easier with rejection or publication. . . . I can dream, can't I?

At 8/05/2009 8:11 PM, Blogger Iapetus999 said...

Aww, I know you'll do great.
You actually understand POV ;)

At 8/05/2009 8:14 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

LOL, thanks Andrew. (As if you don't. Pfft!)

At 8/05/2009 8:36 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Fabulous post - and hey, good luck!

At 8/05/2009 9:42 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

Thanks, Kim! (You probably don't remember me, but we sat together at one of the meals at LDStorymakers.)

At 8/05/2009 11:05 PM, Blogger CKHB said...

If I don't try, I will never win.

AND, if I do try, the worst that can happen is that I'll learn from my mistakes.

That's what I'm telling myself, anyway!

At 8/05/2009 11:16 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

Great point, Carrie. I had a friend once ask me what the absolute worst thing that could happen if I were rejected. I said something ridiculous and we both had a good laugh.

At 8/06/2009 1:49 AM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Best of luck, Jordan!

At 8/06/2009 1:20 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

Thanks, Heather!

At 8/06/2009 5:21 PM, Anonymous Aloha Houseman said...

I have an essay contest for the parents!
What do 'Aloha' and 'Mahalo' mean to you?
Are you a talented writer? Prove it and your talent could pay off big time. Write an essay of 101 words (or less) and you can win a custom home on the Big Island of Hawaii. You read right - WRITE for a home in paradise. The contest will be judged by community leaders - teachers. AND there will be a $30,000 donation to the local schools that are in need at this time of budget cuts.
Win/win, no?

Hurry - Contest Ends August 11, 2009!

Note to Travel Writers, Travel Agents & Reporters:
The sponsors of the contest (builders of the home) are offering complimentary nights at their Castle Bed & Breakfast -no strings attached. Call them for details. 714-253-3810. Ask for Sheri.

On a personal note: These people are in my ward and are well known in their community (for over 8 years) so you can be assured that the contest is being run with the highest integrity. The Prosecuting Attorney's Office is aware of the contest AND the Office of Consumer Affairs has also checked out the contest.
See an interview on KGMG9 Sunrise Show:


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