Tag Archives | editor

Get Rid of Your Fear of Rejection Once and For All

Broken_cracked_glass_265858_lRejection.  It is a fact of the writer’s life.

I wish I could tell you that this was not so.  I wish I could tell you that everything you send off would get picked up immediately.  But I can’t.  It is just not the way the world works.  And so, alas, if you are a writer you will need to get used to rejection.

For some writers, the thought of rejection is so paralyzing that they simply won’t send work out to begin with.  This fear or rejection is, um, counter-productive to say the least.  Because you know the old saying: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

To help you with this fear, I could tell you all the rejection—>triumph stories.  You’ve heard the one about John Grisham, who sent his first book out __ (the number varies according to the telling) before someone saw the brilliance of it.  And we know what happened to him: gazillions of dollars later, he’s a happy man (or at least I damned well hope he is).

I’ve also often told the story of one of my MFA mentors who sent one short story out 34 times.  It got rejected 34 times.  On the 35th time, she got it accepted–and that story went on to win a Pushcart prize.

Or there’s my own story, about my first novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior.  I sent queries to 60 agents.  Yep, 60.  Its worth noting that I was getting encouraging rejections (we love this novel, but…).  The 61st time I sent it to a publisher.  And they picked it up.

So, rah rah rah and all that.  I do know from personal experience that stories such as these can lift me up in the moment until its time to actually send stuff out again.  And then … the voice of doom in my head begins.

But here’s help.  Because I’ve recently realized we deal with our fear of rejection from the wrong end of the equation.   We deal with it when it happens, when the it has the power to lay us out flat on the couch sobbing for days.  A huge part of the reason we get so discouraged over rejection is because we have such high hopes for our work.  We are convinced that we will send the story out once, and sure enough, it will get picked up.  We’ll contact an agent and she’ll snap us before the book is even written.   We send off the query, and every time we think about the results of it–publication, fame, accolades–we get a warm, glowy feeling inside.

Okay, so I’m here to tell you: the easiest way to deal with rejection is to get rid of your expectations in the first place.  Instead of thinking about publication and how glorious it will be, let your work be the reward.  When you know its time to send your piece out–and you will know if you’re honest with yourself–do your research and ship it out the door.  And then quit thinking about it and move on.

Cultivate an attitude of non-expectation.  Be Buddhist. Be Zen. Do not be attached to the outcome, period.  And get to work on your next project.

Let your work be your reward.

Then, when the rejection comes, it is far, far easier to shrug your shoulders and say to yourself, I guess it just wasn’t right for them, and move on.  And by moving on I mean, send it out again.  Because you haven’t put the weight of the world on your poor little query, it will be much happier to go out into the world and try once more.

Right?  So go send something out.  Right now.  I’m serious.  Do it.  And report back when you’re done.

Photograph by Jfg.

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Creation and Implementation: Two Distinct Stages of the Process

Sometimes you gotta spend most of your time writing, and some times you gotta spend most of your time doing all the stuff that surrounds it.  This is something all creatives (do we like calling us that? I can't decide) struggle with at times.  And I believe if you can master the art of separating the two, you'll have a lot more success.   Desi-question-mark-817928-l

Or at least be happier.

I'm talking about the acts of creation and implementation.  

They are two distinct stages of the creative process, and need to be treated as such.  And yet, we–myself included–tend to muck them up and mix them up and try to do them at the same time and that just doesn't work.

Creation.  I think of creation as anything related to the actual act of putting words on the page, like:

  • Writing
  • Writing exercises
  • Editing
  • Journaling
  • Brainstorming

Implementation is anything related to the act of getting your work out in the world, such as:

  • Researching publication
  • Querying agents or editors
  • Proof-reading
  • Formatting a manuscript for publication
  • Promotion and author platform

You may not even realize you are mixing up the two.  You might find yourself spending long hours on researching potential agents before your novel is completed, for instance, or learning everything there is to know about self-publishing before you've written a single word.  Or you might find yourself adding words to a short story even after you've decreed it finished and are in the process of sending it out.

The thing is, you need to make time for each aspect. At different stages, one will take precedence over the other.  When you've polished your novel, for instance, and are ready for it to take the world by storm, you'll either begin that agent search or start the self-publishing process, and you'll likely spend more time doing this than actual writing.  Or when first you begin a blog, you'll spend a lot of time setting it up and not quite so much writing blog posts.

Ultimately, however, if you're not spending most of your time in creation, then you're not going to have anything worth implementing.  I know this is obvious, but in our crazy social media, information-obsessed world, its easy to convince yourself that its more important to write a Facebook post than get a few more hundred words ranked up on the novel.

So here's my simple rule:

Creation, first, implementation second.

If you live by it, you'll be a happy creative.

Discussion?  How do you get sidelined in the creation versus implementation teeter-totter? 

 

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Writing Tics, or What I’m Learning From the Emma Jean Edits

Lens_magnifying_glass_266925_lI'm deep into the edits for my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, and some things are becoming apparent.  As in, writing tic type things.  As in, the little silly stuff I do over and over again.  I thought sharing these tics might be helpful to you.  I know I'll be much more conscious of them as I write my next novel.

So here goes:

–I use the word and too much, often a lot of times in the same sentence. 

–I misuse commas.  Don't ask me how, because I don't quite get it, but I think I use too many of them.

–I over do it with the dialogue tags.  My editor, Nannette, is forever knocking them out.  And I would have told you I used them sparingly.

–I am guilty of repeating words.  I am a demon when it comes to this on my student's work, always exhorting them to change repeated words.  And I would have told you that my manuscript was clean, so clean when it came to such things.  But, no.  Nannette finds plenty of instances of this habit.

–I need to write around lyrics.  Emma Jean always has a song for every occasion, and will happily share it with you.  But this does not work because one must get permission to use song lyrics.  And such permission costs one money.  So I'm writing around them.

So far, the issue with the song lyrics has been the biggest thing I've had to deal with in the edits.  I know there's a problem in one of the final scenes that I've got to deal with and I'm dreading that.  But that's still pages away.  At the moment, I'm on page 200 of 374 and enjoying the process.  The great thing about going through the edits is that it's teaching me about my own writing, and hopefully strengthening it.

Tell me: what are you writing tics?  Have you ever had an editor point them out to you?

 

 

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