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Blunder Out the Gate

RodeoLast week I refined an idea to call my ride to publication, “The Rodeo.” The reality of today’s publishing market is as unforgiving as that bull once he busts out the gate.

Hitting the ground is part of the ride. It’s not personal when a bull stomps your belly; neither is it personal when an publisher or agent never gets back to you.

Today, I discovered an embarrassing blunder and at least I can say with great confidence, I know why this particular publisher will never get back to me. I sent the wrong manuscript. Right title; right revision; wrong edit version.

I don’t know about you, but I get lost in all my revisions. I don’t mean revising, I mean all the versions of my novel that hold space in my folders. They are organized numerically and by date. My revisions exist in Scrivener and as Word Docs. The latter, I share with beta readers or my editor.

When the last revision returned to me it was the final revision with the final edits. But wait — I had to accept the corrections and make recommended changes. I had to accept the commas and change awkward sentences. In my haste — yes, I recall Laura Ingalls quoting Pa, “haste makes waste” — I wasted my opportunity. I thought I had saved the changes, but I sent a file with the complete mark-up of edits on every single page.

Picture this: you are in a writing class. You spend the semester writing, revising and critiquing short stories. Your professor encourages you to send off your latest revision to a literary magazine. But instead of mailing your clean re-write, you mail the professor’s last round of remarks which leaves each page looking like a bloodbath.

Do you think the editor of the literary magazine is going to try to read your submission buried beneath red ink? Most likely, not.

Worse, I recall a similar scenario at work — reading resumes. I was part of the hiring team and often had to read numerous resumes while I was busy with my own department and work. Sometimes I would find such absurd mistakes that I would share the laugh with my team or the HR manager. I cringe to think my submission made someone laugh — look at that mistake!

Rodeo stock-riders make mistakes, too. Especially right out the gate (meaning, your first ride). So I’m going to share a laugh with you, courtesy of comedian, Bill Engavall. When he says, “I am a cowboy,” substitute, “I am a writer!” This is what my first ride felt like, but I’m all psyched up to try again!

http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:uma:video:mtv.com:92484/cp~vid%3D92484%26uri%3Dmgid%3Auma%3Avideo%3Amtv.com%3A92484

Lessons learned from Ride 1:

  1. Now I know what the ride feels like.
  2. A friend cached me on how to save my changes.
  3. Next time I won’t submit in haste. This isn’t a race. It’s a rodeo.

A big buckaroo shout-out to the talented photographer, Jamie Miles. That amazing bull ride photo is her work. I’ve long been a fan of her photography (she covers country music concerts) and when she posted photos from a national bull riding event I asked her if I could purchase one. Consider ways that artists can support artists.

Any feedback for a newbie taking the ride to get published? What was your first ride like? Did you ever blunder? How did you bounce back?

Xpressive_Images_by_J_MIles