One of the things I've started to do is become more brave about my writing.
Normally, I'd write a novella (too many words to be considered a short story, not enough words to be a novel!) and then let them sit on the HD of my computer without sharing them, or I might share them with a few people...and if they think it's good enough, I post them on a site like Literotica or StoryOnline.
Why, yes, I know those sites also post porn, but not all the stories there are porn. There are some very talented writers that I follow on Literotica and even one has gone on to be published in books.
Anyway, I'm now at the point where I'm looking to be published. Not because I think my stories are ready to be published in books, or book, but because I want to learn everything I can so that when I am ready to send that all important query letter, I know that my story is ready for the "big time".
To do this, I have recently bitten the bullet and have entered in a contest. I'm not going to say which contest or where, but it's a good contest and it'll at least give me some exposure. Hopefully, if I do not make it to the finalist round, they'll have notated why and where I need to improve.
I'm nervous, yes. When I sit down and think about it, my stomach gets all queasy. It's a step out of my comfort zone because now my stories are "personal". They've been put out there to be judged in a contest.
Could they be improved upon? Hell, yes. In fact, two of them are being added to to try and make them into novels, by adding more details, more backstory, to flesh out the plot. One of them, in fact, I'm tempted to put away and rewrite it from scratch because I'm learning SO MUCH in my research about becoming published, that I'm not sure adding to the original story will do any good.
I have a story to tell. I write it. My mind is like a camera. When an idea for a story comes, it runs from my mind, through my fingers, and into the computer. I know, in my head, where the characters came from, what world/city/etc they live in, what major conflict they need to overcome in order to reach happily ever after, but what about the other little conflicts, backstory, characters that would help round out the story? THAT is the difficult part for me.
And so, I am studying and researching...and asking questions. LOTS of questions. Sometimes I get answers, and luckily they're from trusted people, already published authors, and sometimes the answers come from my heart, my gut, and more often than not, a search through the internet.
I WANT this...I WANT to be published. Am I ready? Maybe. No, I take that back. Yes, yes, I'm ready. At least, in my mind, I am. At least, ready to take the next step toward my lifelong goal. I'm ready to face the trials and tribulations. I'm ready to learn more, to do more.