Jul 15, 2011

Dealing With the R

Festing friends, you'll find my Poetry Schmoetry post HERE.

R=Rejection. This week's Fantastic Friday Writers topic. Yay. Yay? Yes, yay for you for submitting.

You're not alone. Every writer gets what I call rejection-love. Rejection is part of the journey and nothing to be ashamed of. I consider it a badge of honor. Stephen King got so many he almost gave up. The key word is "almost". He didn't give up.

Many other published writers I've spoken to, some award-winning, told me they wrote any where from 4-9 novels before getting a yes.

Hold your head up and be proud. You finished writing something. You had the guts to submit it. You've got the courage to submit again. That's nothing to hang your head about. You're in the game. You're where thousands dream to be. If you're serious about being a writer, it's something we have to get used to.

Whether it's outright rejection or a bad review, somewhere along the line we're going to run into someone who doesn't care for what we do. Don't let it stop you. Keep writing. Find the passion inside and keep going.

There are levels of rejection. Did you know that? You can gage how you're progressing by what kind you get. There's the no reply, the form letter [dear writer], there's the using your name, there's actually commenting on something in your story, there's revise and resubmit, asking you to submit something else,  actual feedback, etc ... Any time they add something besides 'no', you're doing OK. It means you somehow stood out.

I learned about levels of rejection from Diane Hammond. She lives in my town. Her author journey is inspiring. I've met many other well-known authors in Oregon. Most of them talk about how many rejections they dealt with. So, yeah, you're far from alone.

I caught a brief segment of American Idol where Jennifer Lopez and Stephen Tyler talked about how many no's they heard before getting yes. It's part of our business, the business of being a writer. Part of the business of being in the arts: writer, musician, singer, actor, model, artist, photographer, film maker, etc ...

You can't ever let no stop you. Here's what I do: 1) review all the golden moments - my first fan, praise from published writers in my town [there are a lot around here -- Oregon grows writers like sage and fir trees -- my first fan just won a prestigious writing award]; 2) look at it as a rite of passage and part of the road to authordom, wear it proudly; and 3) figure out how to do better.

Number three is where critique partners come in, craft books, workshops, etc ... We must strike a balance between believing in ourselves and keeping an open mind. Sometimes we do know best. Sometimes we don't. We have to figure out which is which.

Practice better writing. I do this with short stories, and it's through submitting short stories I've been able to gage how I'm doing. Last year I got critique from Brenda C. Cooper through Orycon, [Oregon's sci-fi convention] who said I was writing at a professional level and it was only a matter of time. She was nominated for Hugo or Nebula this year. So, yay.

The hardest ones are when you're in the running then get the no. Siiigh. Recently, I got my 'revise & resubmit' released back to me as the publication folded. Siiigh. Feels like I can't catch a break sometimes. But I keep going. Stopping is not an option. Writing is breathing. I must do it and I will. No matter the outcome.

Keep in mind, not everyone is going to love you. What one person loves, another hates. Keep in mind your audience and write what you love. Keep at it. Don't take no for an answer and eventually we'll all be meeting at conventions and book signings and say "I knew you when ..."

The key is: Never give up, never surrender. My favorite motto from Galaxy Quest.

How do you deal with rejection?

See what other Fantastic Friday Wrtiers have to say: Alex J. Cavanaugh, Elizabeth Mueller, Anastasia V. Pergakis, J.D. Brown, Deirdre Eden Coppel and Jeffrey Beesler.