The Tortoise, the Hare… and a Finished Manuscript

“The Tortoise and the Hare” is a favorite childhood book of mine. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s one of Aesop’s Fables – a story about a race between a turtle (the tortoise) and a rabbit (the hare). As the story goes, after being ridiculed by the hare, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race of unequal proportions. The hare, naturally the faster animal, leaves the tortoise in its dust. So sure of his impending win, the hare then arrogantly decides to take a nap near the finish line, which ultimately results in the tortoise winning.

In this moment, I feel like the tortoise. I’ve finished my manuscript, and it’s taken me forever. As for the hare, that would be the publishing industry – beating me down and putting up roadblocks as I go. I’m only half joking, because I’ve quickly realized that making it as a traditionally published author is no easy feat.

There’ve been many challenges along the way, and I’ve quite literally been working on this thing for more than half of my life. Not because the writing part was so difficult. Because I needed to live more life and continue healing, evolving and growing as a human in order to create the kind of book that I’ve always known I was capable of.

Diving into past trauma hurt freaking bad, but it was also an opportunity for me to turn pain into purpose. And let me tell you… holding this beast-of-a-document in my hands feels amazing:

Last summer, I crunched to meet the open submission deadline for a New York based publishing house. Having the chance to submit was a miracle alone, as most NY publishers won’t give you a shot without an agent.

Since that time, I’ve received a couple updates that my manuscript is still in review, and I should have an answer by August 2022. Here’s what I know for sure:

  • My manuscript is too long (I have to cut pages, or “kill my darlings” as they say in the literary world).
  • It’s not perfect (I need a professional editor).
  • I made the deadline anyway (Because trying is better than not).
  • And it’s still in review (It wasn’t an automatic rejection, which is a win in and of itself).

Summer is my slow season, and it’s the time of year when I can focus more on my writing. So, while I patiently wait on an answer from the publishing house, I’m making moves. I’ve printed out my manuscript, and within the next couple of weeks, I should have pages cut and edits made. I’ve hired an editor/ fellow aspiring author who I met at a writing conference to professionally edit my book.

(Side note and shout out to Tara Winfield: Remember her name, and follow her blog because this rock star writer is going places. I watched agents battle it out at the writing conference over who’d represent her. Yet she’s somehow still not agented. I wasn’t kidding about this industry being cut-throat).

When my manuscript edits are complete, I imagine I will have heard back from the publishing house. If it’s a ‘go,’ then that would be absolutely incredible. If it’s a ‘no,’ then I’m ready to start pitching agents and indie presses again while I simultaneously work on my next book. I expect the next one to be a million times easier to write than the first. I’ve written about the heavy stuff, and soon, I’ll be able to use my creativity to invent characters and story lines that are light and fun. Yes, I most definitely see fiction in my future, and I’ve already got some ideas brewing.

So, while becoming a published author has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, it certainly hasn’t been an easy journey. But I’m a tortoise, baby. Slow and steady wins the race.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with some wise words from Duke basketball coach Kara Lawson:


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