I wrote this story in 2002 and entered it in a writing contest. Months later, I learned that my entry almost became the grand prize winner in the contest. I was happy even if I didn’t get the grand prize. I was buoyed up by the fact that it was my first time to join the contest and the runner-up finish was more than I expected.
In the awarding rites in 2003 an esteemed publisher told me to submit my story to his publishing house, which I readily did. Less than a month later a letter came. The publishing house declined to publish my story. In the absence of a clear reason I assumed that it was probably because of the theme of my story.
Less than a year later I went abroad to work. I was still writing but stopped submitting to publications in the Philippines and joining writing contests. From my friends in Manila I learned of the developments & changes in the publishing scene. A year after I returned to the country I submitted the story again, knowing that in the years that passed, the publishing climate has changed enough to make room for the theme of my story.
Again, my story was rejected and no clear reason was cited.
Last year I joined the same contest for the second time. My entry shared a thematic similarity with my first story. Months later I received notice that my entry was again chosen as honorable mention. Again, not the grand prize but my batting average was great! This new victory gave me confidence to do what a friend has been persuading me to do. To submit my story to other publishing houses. So I did.
Two months later I received a positive response from one of them. But they wanted to see adjustments to the manuscript. Initially I balked at the prospect of tweaking my manuscript. No one has asked me to do that before. I felt like a parent being told that my child wasn’t perfect and in need of some ‘adjustment’.
Fortunately I was able to extricate myself from that spot and look at my manuscript with fresh eyes. The process was still agonizingly slow. There were times when I felt like I was circumcising myself. Each word & phrase that I whittled away felt like I was cutting my own flesh & skin.
However, when I was done, I saw the positive changes in my manuscript. Not a word was out of place; everything was where they should be. The manuscript felt lean and streamlined, thrumming with energy, and ready to leap at the reader. How I wished my body felt the same but I digress.
So this morning, after almost four months of procrastinating and knotting my innards and back, I finally submitted the manuscript to the publishing house. And until I hear from them again, I will keep my fingers crossed that I did enough and that my manuscript will finally become a book!