If you’re in this writing gig long enough you will see a lot of things. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, being rejected by agents will become a routine. So will self-doubt, story problems and a constant whisper in the back of your mind telling you to try something new.
So what is it that makes us drawn to something so incredibly hard? Why did we choose a career where the odds of succeeding is difficult? Why do so many of us forfeit prime sleeping hours or skip a day of play all for the glory of being told no? Raise your hand if you’re the one who passed on a night out because of a badly written chapter. Don’t be shy. My hand is raised to.
Before I try to answer that question lets go over some of the things you and I face on a weekly basis:
Agents: A few weeks ago I received a nice letter from a really nice person. She is an agent from the east coast who I got a chance to meet last summer at the Portland, Oregon writer’s conference. She read my query, read my sample chapters but in the end it wasn’t for her. She could have easily sent me a form letter or nothing at all. Instead she took the time to explain why she passed and by doing so she reminded me that being rejected isn’t always a bad thing. It’s simply part of the process.
Speaking of Rejection: For many writers hearing that word causes mass panic. If you look quick you may notice a dozen or so running deep into the safety of their writing dens. But if you look a little harder, dig a little deeper you’ll discover that rejection is just a word.
Now look a little closer and you’ll see that this particular word is telling you something. Once the whisper grows a little louder it becomes quite clear, it’s telling you to grow a thick skin. Like it or not rejection is part of everyday life and running for cover will only make it stronger. Who needs that?
Doubt: Last year my editor and I worked on my novel. We wrote, we rewrote, we argued, we made up and in the end we created a kick-ass story. Of course I’m bias. Wouldn’t you be? Every week I shook off doubt the way the family pet shakes off a flea.
For a while it would leave but it always returned and sometimes it brought friends. But I kept going. I knew if I stopped doubt would win and that wasn’t going to happen. By the time December rolled around my editor and I put the finishing touches on my novel Dempsey’s Grill. The hard work paid off.
Story Problems: How many of you have written a first or second draft and came to the alarming conclusion that you wrote junk? Wow! That’s a lot of hands. Newsflash – We have all written junk but the stubborn ones were able to pick out the good stuff and try again. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding the story that’s screaming to get out.
Listening: Guys have a hard time listening and I make this claim for one reason – I’m a guy. We love the sound of our voice and we can’t wait for you to stop talking so we can hear it again. But I learned something along the way when I realized I wanted to create quality work – I had to listen.
I have always been of the opinion that women are better listeners and I do my best to follow their lead. Listening while someone trashed my work was one of the hardest things I ever did but it had to be done otherwise the only reader in my future would be me.
What does it all mean?
So I go back to my earlier question – Why are we drawn to something so incredibly hard? Why do we stay up to late or get up way to early? Most of all, why do we care?
I can only think of one word: Persistence.
You and I are a stubborn bunch and we will stop at nothing until we get it right. So get up early or stay up late and do what needs to be done. We are a rare bunch and that makes me smile. It’s the kind of crowd I want to belong to.
Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Have yourself a great day.