Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Highs and Lows of Rejection

Summer is over, the kids are back to school, and once again my house is filled with the sweet sounds of silence that mean only one thing - time to get writing again. Mug of coffee at the ready, check. High carb salty snacks with a chocolate chaser. Check. Inspiration and motivation. Now where'd I put that again?

This is an interesting part of the journey for me. I started writing Band Geek a year ago at this time, and every day the words flowed as if channeled from somewhere else. No writer's block. I felt certain when I started writing again, this book would come the same way, but no, apparently not. Instead, two stories showed up, each fighting for my attention, one middle grade and one YA. I started one, then flip-flopped to the other. Now I'm writing both simultaneously, and trying to maintain my sanity while awaiting the response to my partial and full requests that are dangling out there. It's daunting to start a new project without the first one having been sold, let alone agented. It eats at my resolve, especially each time my inbox lights up with another rejection, and I have to remember, this is part of the process. I can do this.

At first, the rejections felt personal - how could they not? I tried to remind myself that writing is subjective, and just as I do not fall in love with every movie or book that critics love, so will it be the same for my own work, but I have to have faith that one day, someone will read it and connect. Instead of making a bonfire with rejection e-mails and toasting marshmallows and throwing myself a pity party, I realized that maybe these rejections were actually doing me a huge favor. Maybe they were forcing me to take a step back and put some time and distance between me and my book and let me come at it anew with fresh eyes and a list of comments and suggestions from those few agents and fellow writers who had graciously taken the time to offer them up.

Recently, I went to a meeting of my local SCBWI chapter, and one of the authors there said that "Your book is never done. Even when it's published, it's never perfect. You can always find things you want to go back and change." True that. Just because my book is "done" doesn't mean it's ever really "done". If an agent falls in love with it, chances are they will have a take on what they feel it needs to make it even better, and the publisher will have an even bigger list. In many ways, rejection almost has more value than praise for a writer. I think it makes us BETTER writers. Sure, it feels good for someone to say your work is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but when someone really takes the time to tell you what DOESN'T work, that is actually the greatest gift of all. It gives us the building blocks to rework our stories in ways that can serve to make them stronger that we may be too close to the work to see.

I'm thankful for each and every person that has had the courage along the way to be honest and take time out of their busy lives to help me make my work the best it can be. The old saying goes "That which doesn't kill us only serves to make us stronger." Well, I'm still alive and kicking, and though I may be down for the count momentarily each time a new "no" comes, I know if this is what I want, if this is what I'm passionate about, if this is what I MUST do, then I always have to get back up again.

So don't give up. Keep writing. Keep moving forward. There are many stories within each of us.

Chatting With Fellow Sourcebooks Debut Author Kurt Dinan About The Writing Life and DON'T GET CAUGHT!

One of my favorite parts about the path leading up to the debut of MY KIND OF CRAZY has been becoming friends with the hilarious witty and i...