Bitter Pills we gotta swallow

Case in point. Some pills in life are hard to take, but they’re necessary nevertheless.

I used to think that every writing-related opportunity was meant for me. Twitter pitches, Facebook pitches, publisher submission calls for un-agented (and agented) Black writers, etc. When all you have to do is write a short 100-word blurb, first chapter, and synopsis, or 280-character pitch, it seemed all too easy to catch the attention of an agent and/or editor.

Once my plate got too full, and I realized I wasn’t in love with every pitch I’d send in, it grew easier to pass on opportunities I genuinely felt were too much for me.

But back in February 2018, when Harlequin/Mills & Boon held a Harlequin Romance Blitz pitch, I felt compelled to submit a first chapter and query for their consideration. I’d entered opportunities like this with Harlequin before, off and on, from 2013 to 2016. I was expecting a form rejection letter. A “thanks but no thanks”. Instead, from the first chapter I received a partial request (that’s the first 3 chapters). I was pleasantly shocked. Cue theatrics with my family who were super indulgent, bless their hearts!

Fast forward to Summer 2018, I awoke to a lovely email from an honest-to-goodness Harlequin editor requesting to see the full manuscript. Luckily, I’d gone ahead and written the first draft of the entire manuscript. So, I sat down, re-read what I had and quickly realized that I needed to do major edits from Chapter Three onwards.

It took 5 months for me to get it back to the editor. *hangs head* I still cringe when I think of how long it took me to edit and revise. Three rounds of revisions later, I hit SEND at the end of 2018.

The editor’s speedy reply came late January 2019, and I got an R&R. Another first! I was excited that this wasn’t the end of the road for my little manuscript, but I had a fair share of nerves too. I hadn’t done editorial revisions before beyond my critique group (hi, Sassy Scribes!), but I turned the R&R around pretty quickly.

Skip to January 2020 and I got my 2nd R&R. Yay, not a rejection, but I was still missing the mark on my emotional conflict. Back to the drawing board, it took me another 5 months (!!!!) before I sent it off to the editor again.

In July 2020, I heard back from her. She was nothing but kind, patient and complimentary about my romance manuscript. She requested another full R&R, and I was determined to hit the right notes this time.

I submitted this latest R&R only a few weeks ago, so I’m back to waiting.

These past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to enter many of these Blitzes with Harlequin and participate in Twitter pitches like #pitmad and #DVpit. Heck, there’s a wonderful #ownvoices opportunity for Harlequin Presents happening this Friday. I’ve skipped them because I didn’t have anything I felt was worthy of any agent’s or editor’s eyes.

So, though a hard pill to swallow, I’ve accepted not every door of opportunity should be opened. 🙂

Tell me, have you walked away from an opportunity in your life because the timing didn’t feel right? Let me know in the comments.



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