I had a critique partner of mine tell me just the other day that my first manuscript (which has been revised within an inch of its life, by the way...for almost two years--but who's counting) is probably not very commercial. And this particular person has enough experience to know. Very shortly after I got some less direct, but equally strong critique from two other partners who had some of the very same concerns she did-- which pretty much confirms that the fate of this story is not good right now. And that's some harsh reality to get hit with all at once. But God bless 'em all, because their honesty is just as important to my writing as the actual writing itself and without them I would be failing a lot more often and more spectacularly. So if any of you lovely ladies happen to read this: thanks again for kicking my butt:)
Still, about now you're probably thinking that I'm writing this from underneath my desk since that type of tough love is difficult to swallow--although it almost always goes down a little easier when you chase it with a little Ben and Jerry's cookie dough ice cream;) But I'm not. You know why? Cause they are absolutely right. It is quiet and slow paced and not very original-not exactly ready for primetime. I knew this somewhere deep within, they only confirmed what I already suspected.
So what am I doing about it? I'm puttting on my big girl writing panties and I'm starting the next manuscript. I'm accepting that for now that first manuscript is the physical representation of my education in writing. It was my MFA program. It taught me how to revise, it taught me how to find my voice and plot. It taught me what I might be passionate about writing and what just might be me emulating someone else--there's a big difference. Even though this first baby isn't going to bring in so much as a trickle of agents interested in representing it, it is already priceless. I learned all of the what not to do's and they are way harder to internalize sometimes than the what to do's.
I say all of this because (for me and for all of us) what will hopefully make the difference between hoping to get published and actually being published is how I/we handle the steep learning curve--because that's what rejection is--learning. When I manage to get it right and the plot, pacing, character development, and description lessons I've learned finally become fused to my brain I believe that the rest will just naturally follow--not huge fame and wealth, but agents and publishing (although I'm sure I wouldn't run screaming from a big pile of money and an interview with Oprah). My ability to see the lesson in the critique is what will ultimately make me a true writer and that was really the most important goal all along.
So I say embrace your mistakes, learn and move on 'cause in this business it's the only way to survive.