It’s been a terrific week and many thanks to all the new folk following me and asking for news about my latest work. It’s really great getting feedback from you and hearing what you like and what you don’t like and how interested you have been in Chickadee. I had so much fun writing it. My only problem is I’m still battling with a recalcitrant computer and the vagaries of deadlines as I finish up on my latest novel, so blogs have been a bit slow.
I was asked this week about rejections, it’s amazing how hard writers take this and none more so than me, the trouble is though, if you’re going to be a writer, they’re a necessary evil. I could write forever about the life of a writer and the ups and downs.
I was never under any illusions about being an author, I always knew it would be tough. I think the trouble is lots of folk are under the impression they can sit down for an hour a day and write a bestseller with no effort and it isn’t like that at all. Most of the writers I know have had to start off being part-timers and have done incredible jobs of juggling husband, kids, full-time work and even sick parents and this seems to be the norm. Shrouded in romance, writing is far from that ideal vision we have but in the end I think that’s what makes it more wonderful when we succeed.
I came to writing from a very early age and I guess it was in me. My family were all avid readers and I was drip fed the written word from the moment I could open my eyes, I thought it was a truly wondrous thing being able to create these mini-worlds, being transported for awhile into make believe and I knew very early on I wanted to make it part of my life, come what may. Yes, I had to battle with many things, not necessarily those above, but certainly illness and bereavement and a demanding career and sometimes I never thought I’d make it.
I started first of all with a journal and then I just wrote and wrote. Yes, I bet you can guess most of it was awful but if you want to be a writer you have to just get things down and keep working at it and refining the craft. Writing for pleasure though, is one thing and making it your life another. Writing is a lonely and yet incredible thing to do. There are so many positives and negatives and so much advice out there, most of which conflicts.
What you most need I think, is motivation and self-discipline and an inner love of the craft. If you love your craft that will get you through all the dispiriting bits like finding time, fielding criticism and rejection and boy there’s a lot of that. Last week a beginner writer asked me for a tip, she’d had another rejection and was angry with the editor. Her story was close to her heart and because of that she wanted to lash out and defend it, by arguing. Please don’t berate your editor…that’s valuable lesson number one. I know what it feels like to send in story after story and be criticised and I think we all get jolly annoyed with it and think we know best. But the thing is we don’t, not always. You love writing and reading don’t you? Well, that means you’re ready to learn and this is what writing is all about, learning and enjoying the process and seeing that editor as a valuable guide on your path. Editor’s can seem hard and they can also be great. The thing is they don’t always see your story the same way you do and that can be for so many reasons. So instead of feeling mean over a rejection look at the criticism and think about how you can turn it around. Rejection of all kinds is tough, whether it’s being rejected in love, by a friend or it’s that story you laboured so hard on. What you have to realise though is every publisher and every editor is looking for different things and maybe you didn’t pitch your story correctly, maybe the editor just doesn’t like your style or maybe that story was just too similar to another one they’d just published. There are a multitude of reasons why you didn’t succeed this time.
If you’re lucky your editor will tell you where you went wrong, if not bin the rejection letter, place the story in a folder to look at when you get over your anger, or revise it and send it out again. If your editor gave you comment, boy you’re lucky and store it up. Those comments can be invaluable for your growth.
The most important thing of all… remember the rejection or comment is not directed at you. Your editor has many hundreds of stories to peruse and he doesn’t have time to hate you. In fact I firmly believe now that if your editor sees promise in your work he wants you to succeed. I made fundamental errors starting because I was so eager and I pitched wrongly. I also learnt that although I majored in English, different publishers like different styles and you have to adapt. Wow! This is a life long learning process but don’t you think learning new stuff is always such fun and marks us out as human..?
I could go on about rejections forever but I think I’ll leave it at that. I think what I want to say is…you might feel mortally bruised by the ‘R’ word and think it’s aimed at you. It’s not. Pick up your pen or get back to your keyboard and start a new story and above all don’t be put off. Remember if you have the desire and love of writing and you truly want to write, you will succeed. Take it from one who has emerged battered and bruised and…one final note…. believe me it doesn’t get any better no matter what they say. Your story is your baby and you care for it and you’ll still have a crying session and hide under the duvet when your story comes back unloved. Allow yourself your cry, then treat yourself to a strong coffee, a slice of your favrouite cake and then get back to that wonderful next new story or carefully dissect the one that wasn’t loved and remember someone will love your work soon.
Have a great week!