Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Love Your Writing, But...

Most writers have received numerous rejections that read something like this: Thank you for your recent submission, _______. Although your writing shows talent and I found your story to be interesting, I'm afraid it is not for me at this time.

You read and re-read these words, and your mind takes off on a run, with your heart in close tow. Oh, sure. What they're really saying is, 'You can't write worth a damn and your story sucked, big time. You're a LOSER!'

Then you get the old, "you've gotta have a thick skin" lecture from well-meaning friends (or from that chastising voice in your own head.) You search your manuscript, looking for that one word, or line, or paragraph that sabotaged your otherwise brilliant career. Maybe if I change my heroine, her crisis, her background--her underwear! Maybe, then, they'll like me...er...my book.

You can make yourself crazy, trying to figure out what that somewhat cryptic rejection meant. I'm talented and you liked my story---but it's not for you? It begs the question: Are you looking for a no-talent writer to produce a crappy story?

But what if you take the agent, editor or publisher at his/her word? What if you take to heart what has been said? You are talented. You have an interesting story. It's just not what this particular agent or publisher is seeking at the moment.

Who needs a thick skin, when you have an open mind? Think about it. What does this person, who has in all likelihood never met you, stand to gain by lying to you? Do you think they really want to let you down easy by cushioning the fall with false praise?

I'm not asking these questions to challenge you but, rather, to challenge myself. To change the way I view the dreaded rejection letter (which has become a two-line rejection email--even more impersonal).

I received just such an email yesterday, after the publisher held onto the manuscript for eleven months with the note that it "showed potential for their market." I had a choice: I could become angry, frustrated, cynical--let it take me down. Or I could take it in stride, smile at the fact that this particular editor saw something positive in my writing and in my story, and I can reason that I was offering beef when she was hungry for chicken. (Okay, really bad analogy, but you get the point.)

Learning to deal with the rejection that comes with this business can be challenging. Most of us don't write only from our heads. We write from our hearts and souls. And, so, when our work is rejected, it hits us on a personal level. It is personal.

If I believe this editor who said she liked my writing style and found my story to be interesting, and if I take that personally, I should be feeling pretty good about myself about now.

Shouldn't I?

Now go, shake off the dust and re-submit something!



Infogypsy said...

Great post, Linda. Life is all interpretation anyway - there's what happens in life - a rejection letter, and what you make it mean. It's easy to make it mean they're stupid, I'm stupid, someone is stupid, but much more empowering to create a new meaning, like you said. Maybe something like 'Gee, they're not the right people to publish my work and the right one is still out there" or "Wow, it's great how many people are pulling for me to become a fantastic writer. How embarrassed I'd be if I became a best seller and yet I felt I could have done way better with my writig or story? I think with the next rejection letter, I'll take on I'm learning so much more with each passing month and when it's time to get an agent or a big publisher, I'll be ready -

Verna LaBounty said...

Point of view is as important for us as for our characters. After working long and hard to complete a manuscript, I'm just happy to have something to submit...still smiling after three rejections. Will I keep it pasted on after 10 or 20? Hard to say.

Carol said...

Rejection is best taken with a bit of sugar. Whether it's in the form of a pleasing treat to eat, or simply inhaling the freshness of a walk in the woods, the best thing is to shake up your world and be glad to be able to do what 99% of writers can't do: go from page one to the end of a story. Carol McPhee
Latest release: Something About That Lady available in ebook format at www.champagnebooks.com

Other releases:
Undercover Trouble: www.champagnebooks.com and www.fictionwise.com
Retreat To Danger: www.wingsepress.com and www.fictionwise.com
Alaskan Magic from www.champagnebooks.com and www.fictionwise.com

Strong, smart, sensuous heroines, heroes to die for.
Carol McPhee: http://www.geocities.com/carolmcphee2003