Writing had become an addiction, and rejection made it a downer. If I didn’t write, I was depressed. If I did write and got rejected, I was depressed. There was no winning this thing.

I stopped telling people I wrote books. I moved to another state. (Not because of that, though it didn’t hurt.)

Then in one bold and crazy feat, which nearly gave me a heart attack, I went to a local writing association at my new city.

A key to my progress as a writer started when I began reading for other novelists. They read for me. We chatted and became friends. They’d been through rejection, were going through the frustration of that steep learning curve of newer writers, and they got me. They understood.

Within a couple years, one of us was published with a small press. The excitement of his success fueled the rest of us with renewed hope.

The reading and critiquing had made us all better writers.

While we didn’t last as a group, they will always be my friends.

The one who published left the group to get a masters degree. It’s okay to have a goal, meet it, and then try new things.

One of us got an agent and became a Pitch Wars Mentor, then later self published. Everyone has their own path. Every path is valid.

One of us died suddenly, which made me realize I had to do what I loved and forget the little stuff.

One of us went on to become a NaNoWriMo leader and still writes as a hobby. She never lost the love of writing and didn’t mind not getting published.

All of these people helped me on my journey, and I’ll never forget them for what they taught me. I went on to become other things in the publishing industry. I’ve been a professional editor for a company in the UK and US. I was Managing Director of Pitch Wars, Pitch Madness, and #PitMad. I’ve interned for agents, reading and managing the queries. I’ve worked as a reader and editor for small presses.

Every person I’ve met on my writing journey strengthened my foundation and gave me support as I progressed in the art of writing and the business of publishing.

Even the negative things, the people who never said one positive thing about my writing, the people who told me I should quit, the people who said I needed to learn basic writing skills after being a professional editor for years, the people who threw out pages and rewrote them because my writing wasn’t good enough–all of those things helped me learn what kind of critique partner, editor, and writer I want to be.

And not everyone has to love it. If my writing improves one life, it’s all worth it. And that’s already happened by making me happier when I write it.

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