A fellow writer I met on the internet and I submitted our novels to a writing contest. Her manuscript was advanced to the next level while all I got was a form rejection notice. It led me to ask myself, “What did I do wrong?”
Like every other writer, I get lots of rejections from agents and editors. Many of those rejections leave me asking myself, “What did I do wrong?” From a rational standpoint, I know it’s a very dysfunctional way to think, but I still catch myself doing it sometimes. Such thinking has led me to overwrite my piece, actually making it worse than before. I’m trying to write something so well, no one will be able to reject it. That only leads to neurosis.
Interestingly, an agent she previously submitted the same work to sent her a rejection letter detailing the reasons her manuscript was not ready for publication, and even told her she needed to develop her writing skills further. In a similar experience, I submitted a short story to one publisher and they responded with a detailed explanation of how my main character did not work. The next market I submitted it to accepted the piece. My story even got a call out from a reviewer.
The lesson: It’s impossible to write a piece so perfect it will please everyone. Writing is subjective. There are a couple novel series circulating that are as well known for being written poorly as they are for making millions. Go figure. There’s only one reasonable thing to do. Make sure your writing is good rather than perfect, then send it out. If you wait for a perfect manuscript, you will never get done.