My self-confidence was gone. My writing prospects were gone. My job was gone. I could have curled up, quit, and gone back to being a librarian, but jobs for catalogers were few and far between those days as libraries went to centralized catalogs. So I read, and became a reviewer for a couple of magazines. At least it kept my name out there. And I learned more as I read for critique rather than for pleasure.
Then got an email one day from another friend who was working for a small publisher who needed another copy editor. Leery (I can be taught), I asked what the payment would be. This time, it would be a flat rate, plus royalties. Okay, the flat rate wasn’t great, but at least it was something. So I agreed. And I kept on writing, though not submitting. I’d been burnt too badly. I worked for her for nearly a year. And kept learning the craft.
I joined RWA and my local RWA group. And that was all I needed. It was a small group of about twenty people, but they were so full of enthusiasm. Some of them were published, some not. But all had experience in rejections. And they all had stories that wanted to be told. They understood me. They understood how I felt. And I understood them.
With their help, I started submitting again. And writing. And learning. Though I kept getting nothing but rejections, they were now coming with handwritten notes and encouragement to submit something else. And I was winning contests.
Then I got “The Call” from a publisher who is no longer in business for a story I’d submitted less than a month previously. And that was followed just a week later, also from the same publisher, but a different editor, for another book I’d submitted eighteen months previously. They wanted both books. I’d done my homework on this one. They were relatively stable, had a good reputation and the authors I’d talked to who were already writing for them had good things to say. So, heart in hand, I accepted.
And I was off and running.